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General Info
Atomic Symbol Atomic symbol::K
Atomic Number Atomic number::19
Atomic Weight Atomic weight::39.098 g/mol
Chemical series Alkali metals
Appearance Sample potassium.jpg
Group, Period, Block 1, 4, s
Electron configuration [Ar] 4s1
Electrons per shell
Electron shell potassium.png
CAS number CAS number::7440-09-7
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density Density::0.89 g/ml
Melting point Melting point::336.53 K
Boiling point Boiling point::1032 K
Isotopes of Potassium
iso NA half-life DT DE (MeV) DP
39K 93.26% 39K is stable with 20 neutrons.
40K 0.012% 1.248(3)×109y β- 1.311 40Ca
40K 0.012% 1.248(3)×109y ε 1.505 40Ar
40K 0.012% 1.248(3)×109y β+ 1.505 40Ar
41K 6.73% 41K is stable with 22 neutrons.
All properties are for STP unless otherwise stated.

Potassium is a chemical element known by the atomic symbol as K. With an atomic number of 19 it has a silvery structure. The number of protons and electrons is 19, and the neutron has 20. This element is classified as an Alkali Metal. It has a crystal structure classified as cubic. [Potassium’s] atomic structure is quite simple with four energy levels, two in the first, eight in the second and third, and one in the fourth. Potassium was discovered in 1807 by Sir Humphrey Davy. The name of this element comes for a Potash background. The symbol of origin is from the Latin word kalium. Little did they know when he first discovered it how much impact it would have on the world. It’s used in both glass and soap, which are both very important in everyday life. Its isotopes include K-39, K-40, K-41, K-42, and K-43. They go all the way from being stable to 22.3 hours. This element has a big impact on the world. And thats the way it will always be.[1]


In the large span of the Periodic Table, lies the [element] [Potassium.] [Potassium] was discovered by Sir Davy in 1808 and has the atomic number of 19. The atomic mass is approximately 39.0983 g.mol(-1). This [element] got its name from the English word, potash. Which might have originated from the Arabic word qali, meaning alkali. And the chemical symbol (k) comes from the Mediaeval Latin word, kalium. The density of the metal is 0.86 at 0 degrees Celsius. This metal has a melting and boiling point, at 63.2 and 760 degrees Celsius. [Potassium] has a van der waals radius of 0.235 nm and an ionic radius of 0.133 (+1). It has an isotope number of 5. The electronic shell of this is [ Ar ] 4s to the 1. The energy on the first ionization is 418.6 kj.mol to the -1.

Compared to other alkali metals,this one is a softer one. It has silvery-white coloring to it. Although it is that color when it is first cut, after awhile it oxidizes rapidly in air and tarnishes within minutes. To prevent this from happening, [potassium] is stored under oil or grease. Surprisingly it is light enough to float on water, but it reacts instantly to release the [hydrogen] within it. The [hydrogen] is released in a lilac flame, which it gives off. Almost the entire chemistry of [potassium] is that of [potassium] ion, K(+). [2]


Plants grow vibrantly all over the world in need of a variety of nutrients. One of the essential nutrients is potassium. Potassium is in fertilizers, animal’s food, and of course human food. In plants, potassium has two roles, one role is it an irreplaceable part to play in the activation of enzymes (catalytic proteins). This is part of a fundamental to metabolic process, most common in the production of proteins and sugars. Second, potassium is the “plant-preferred ion for maintaining the water content and hence turgor pressure of each cell. The large concentration of [potassium] in the cell sap creates conditions that cause water to move into the cell through the porous cell wall. Humans need both potassium from food, and sodium from salt although your body needs more of a [potassium] intake then a sodium intake.

Since potassium is found in all living cells, the recommended daily intake varies with the human age. For example if you are between the ages of 11-14, you should have about 3.1 grams of [potassium] per day. If you are 15 and over you should have around 3.5 grams. The numbers aren't that different in range, but still it really is important to intake a good amount of potassium per day. A good list of potassium foods are the following: Banana, plum, Apricot, Orange, Grape, Strawberry, Apple, Spinach, Potato, Carrots, Tomatoes, Milk, and Coffee. Potassium is a common element that comes from the Earth, and ranges at about seventh in order of abundance in the earth’s crust. Although [potassium] is most commonly found in fertilizer, it is also found in many types of food. [3]


The [element] [Potassium] is crucial for human life. It helps you in all places of your body, such as your heart, kidneys, and it helps other organs to function normally. Though all people should intake [potassium] daily, it’s the people that eat healthy that get a bigger dose of it. Most of Americans don’t get enough [potassium ]and will suffer later in life because of it. People who don't consume enough [potassium], have the risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders, and infertility in the near future. So, if you don't consume enough [potassium,]you need to get on a diet. But don't worry, potassium deficiencies are more common in people who; use certain medicines, have physically demanding jobs, are athletes, have health conditions, have an eating disorder, smoke, do drugs and drink alcohol.

People of different ages should intake different amounts of potassium. Children from 1-3 should have 3,000 mg/day, 4-8 should have 3,800 mg/day, 9-13 should have 4,500 mg/day, and if you're 14 and over you should have 4,700 mg/day. Good sources of [potassium] include; bananas, avocados, nuts, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, milk, and potatoes. Some methods of cooking can destroy the potassium content, such as boiling. [4]

Potassium in Fertilizers

Fertilizers contain lots of potassium which must be applied to any type of soil that is being used. Farmers around the world rely on different fertilizers to make their crops grow. Even potassium by itself can be applied as straight fertilizer. But it is usually formed into a compound with nitrogen and phosphorus. There are four common kinds of straight potash fertilizers; Muriate of Potash (MOP), Sulfate of Potash (SOP), Potassium Magnesium Sulfate and Potassium Nitrate. Muriate of Potash (MOP) is the most common potassium source used in agriculture, and is used about 95% worldwide. The fertilizer is build up of 50% of Potassium and 46% of Chloride.

Sulfate of Potash (SOP) is used in crops that are sensitive to chloride For example, this kind of fertilizer is used when growing tobacco, pineapple or avocado, in with the potassium content is low. The compound Potassium Magnesium Sulfate is an excellent source of potassium, magnesium and sulfur, as the name implies. Its nutrient composition is approximately 18% Potassium, 11% Magnesium, and 22% Sulfur. Potassium Nitrate also known as saltpeter, which is often used in foliar or fertigation because it is highly and quickly water soluble. The nutrient composition is; 38% potassium and 22% sulfur. [5]


Reactions with sodium and potassium


  1. Bentor, Yinon. Basic Information. “Periodic Table: Potassium”. Web 10-22-13.
  2. Lenntech, B.V. Potassium – K. “Water Treatment Solutions”. Web. 10-7-13.
  3. Johnston, A.E. Understanding Potassium and its use in Agriculture. “European Fertilizer Manufacturers Association”. Web. 10-7-13.
  4. Ratini, Melinda. Potassium. “WebMD” Web. 10-22-13.
  5. Canadian, Potash. Potassium in Fertilisers. “Potassium” Web. 10-22-13.