Potassium hydroxide Identifiers CAS number PubChem ChemSpider UNII EC number UN number 1813 ChEBI RTECS number TT2100000 Jmol-3D images Image 1 Properties Molecular formula KOH Molar mass 56.1056 g/mol Appearance white solid, deliquescent Density 2.044 g/cm3 Melting point
Solubility in water 1210 g/L (25 °C)
1780 g/L (100 °C)
Solubility soluble in alcohol, glycerol
insoluble in ether, liquid ammonia
Acidity (pKa) 13.5 (0.1 M) Refractive index (nD) 1.409 Structure Crystal structure rhombohedral Hazards MSDS ICSC 0357 EU Index 019-002-00-8 EU classification Corrosive (C)
R-phrases , S-phrases , , , NFPA 704 Flash point Non-flammable LD50 273 mg/kg Related compounds Other anions Potassium hydrosulfide
Other cations Lithium hydroxide
Related compounds Potassium oxide (what is: /?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Along with sodium hydroxide (NaOH), this colorless solid is a prototypical strong base. It has many industrial and niche applications. Most applications exploit its reactivity toward acids and its corrosive nature. In 2005, an estimated 700,000 to 800,000 tonnes were produced. Approximately 100 times more NaOH than KOH is produced annually. KOH is noteworthy as the precursor to most soft and liquid soaps as well as numerous potassium-containing chemicals.
- 1 Properties and structure
- 2 Reactions
- 3 Manufacture
- 4 Uses
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Properties and structure
Potassium hydroxide can be found in pure form by reacting sodium hydroxide with impure potassium. Potassium hydroxide is usually sold as translucent pellets, which will become tacky in air because KOH is hygroscopic. Consequently, KOH typically contains varying amounts of water (as well as carbonates, see below). Its dissolution in water is strongly exothermic, meaning the process gives off significant heat. Concentrated aqueous solutions are sometimes called potassium lyes. Even at high temperatures, solid KOH does not dehydrate readily.
At higher temperatures, solid KOH crystallizes in the NaCl crystal structure. The OH group is either rapidly or randomly disordered so that the OH− group is effectively a spherical anion of radius 1.53 Å (between Cl− and F− in size). At room temperature, the OH− groups are ordered and the environment about the K+ centers is distorted, with K+—OH− distances ranging from 2.69 to 3.15 Å, depending on the orientation of the OH group. KOH forms a series of crystalline hydrates, namely the monohydrate KOH·H2O, the dihydrate KOH·2H2O, and the tetrahydrate KOH·4H2O.
Solubility and desiccating properties
Approximately 121 g of KOH will dissolve in 100 mL of water at room temperature (compared with 100 g of NaOH in the same volume). Lower alcohols such as methanol, ethanol, and propanols are also excellent solvents. The solubility in ethanol is about 40 g KOH/100 mL.
Because of its high affinity for water, KOH serves as a desiccant in the laboratory. It is often used to dry basic solvents, especially amines and pyridines: distillation of these basic liquids from a slurry of KOH yields the anhydrous reagent.
Like NaOH, KOH exhibits high thermal stability. The gaseous species is dimeric. Because of its high stability and relatively low melting point, it is often melt-cast as pellets or rods, forms that have low surface area and convenient handling properties.
As a base
KOH is highly basic, forming strongly alkaline solutions in water and other polar solvents. These solutions are capable of deprotonating many acids, even weak ones. In analytical chemistry, titrations using solutions of KOH are used to assay acids.
As a nucleophile in organic chemistry
KOH, like NaOH, serves as a source of OH−, a highly nucleophilic anion that attacks polar bonds in both inorganic and organic materials. In perhaps its most well-known reaction, aqueous KOH saponifies esters:
- KOH + RCO2R' → RCO2K + R'OH
When R is a long chain, the product is called a potassium soap. This reaction is manifested by the "greasy" feel that KOH gives when touched — fats on the skin are rapidly converted to soap and glycerol.
Reactions with inorganic compounds
- KOH + CO2 → KHCO3
Historically KOH was made by boiling a solution of potassium carbonate (potash) with calcium hydroxide (slaked lime), leading to a metathesis reaction which caused calcium carbonate to precipitate, leaving potassium hydroxide in solution:
- Ca(OH)2 + K2CO3 → CaCO3 + 2 KOH
Filtering off the precipitated calcium carbonate and boiling down the solution gives potassium hydroxide ("calcinated or caustic potash"). This method used potash extracted from wood ashes using slaked lime. It was the most important method of producing potassium hydroxide until the late 19th century, when it was largely replaced by the current method of electrolysis of potassium chloride solutions, analogous to the method of manufacturing sodium hydroxide (see chloralkali process):
- 2 KCl + 2 H2O → 2 KOH + Cl2 + H2
Hydrogen gas forms as a by-product on the cathode; concurrently, an anodic oxidation of the chloride ion takes place, forming chlorine gas as a byproduct. Separation of the anodic and cathodic spaces in the electrolysis cell is essential for this process.
KOH and NaOH can be used interchangeably for a number of applications, although in industry, NaOH is preferred because of its lower cost.
Precursor to other potassium compounds
Many potassium salts are prepared by neutralization reactions involving KOH. The potassium salts of carbonate, cyanide, permanganate, phosphate, and various silicates are prepared by treating either the oxides or the acids with KOH. The high solubility of potassium phosphate is desirable in fertilizers.
Manufacture of biodiesel
Although more expensive than using sodium hydroxide, KOH works well in the manufacture of biodiesel by transesterification of the triglycerides in vegetable oil. Glycerin from potassium hydroxide-processed biodiesel is useful as an inexpensive food supplement for livestock, once the toxic methanol is removed.
Manufacture of soft soaps
The saponification of fats with KOH is used to prepare the corresponding "potassium soaps", which are softer than the more common sodium hydroxide-derived soaps. Because of their softness and greater solubility, potassium soaps require less water to liquefy, and can thus contain more cleaning agent than liquefied sodium soaps.
As an electrolyte
Aqueous potassium hydroxide is employed as the electrolyte in alkaline batteries based on nickel-cadmium and manganese dioxide-zinc. Potassium hydroxide is preferred over sodium hydroxide because its solutions are more conductive. The Nickel Metal Hydride batteries in the Toyota Prius use a mixture of potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide.
Like sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide attracts numerous specialized applications, virtually all of which rely on its properties as a strong chemical base with its consequent ability to degrade many materials. For example, in a process commonly referred to as "chemical cremation" or "resomation", potassium hydroxide hastens the decomposition of soft tissues, both animal and human, to leave behind only the bones and other hard tissues. Entomologists wishing to study the fine structure of insect anatomy may use a 10% aqueous solution of KOH to apply this process. An example of chemical cremation outside of a laboratory environment is the use of a potassium hydroxide solution as the principal agent in the resomation process, an alternative to the well-known, thermal cremation process for the disposal of human remains after death.
The corrosive properties of potassium hydroxide make it a useful ingredient in agents and preparations that clean and disinfect surfaces and materials that can themselves resist corrosion by KOH.
Potassium hydroxide is often the main active ingredient in chemical "cuticle removers" used in manicure treatments.
Because aggressive bases like KOH damage the cuticle of the hair shaft, potassium hydroxide is used to chemically assist the removal of hair from animal hides. The hides are soaked for several hours in a solution of KOH and water to prepare them for the unhairing stage of the tanning process. This same effect is also used to weaken human hair in preparation for shaving. Pre-shave products and some shave creams contain potassium hydroxide to force open the hair cuticle and to act as a hygroscopic agent to attract and force water into the hair shaft, causing further damage to the hair. In this weakened state, the hair is more easily cut by a razor blade.
Potassium hydroxide is used to identify certain kinds of mushrooms. A 3–5% aqueous solution of KOH is applied to the flesh of a mushroom and the researcher notes whether or not the color of the flesh changes. Certain species of boletes, polypores, and many gilled mushrooms are identified based on this color-change reaction.
- ^ a b c d Lide, D. R., ed (2005). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (86th ed.). Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press. p. 4-80. ISBN 0-8493-0486-5.
- ^ a b H. Schultz, G. Bauer, E. Schachl, F. Hagedorn, P. Schmittinger “Potassium Compounds” in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 2005, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a22_039
- ^ "Caustic Potash." Oxy.com Retrieved on July 26, 2010.
- ^ "Potassium Hydroxide." MSDS Retrieved on January 24
- ^ Holleman, A. F.; Wiberg, E. "Inorganic Chemistry" Academic Press: San Diego, 2001. ISBN 0-12-352651-5.
- ^ Wells, A.F. (1984) Structural Inorganic Chemistry, Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-855370-6.
- ^ W. W. Hartman, "p-Cresol", Org. Synth., http://www.orgsyn.org/orgsyn/orgsyn/prepContent.asp?prep=CV1P0175 ; Coll. Vol. 1: 175
- ^ Römpp Chemie-Lexikon, 9th Ed. (in german)
- ^ James K. Drackley Glycerin as a potential feed ingredient for dairy cattle
- ^ K. Schumann, K. Siekmann “Soaps” in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2005, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a24_247
- ^ D. Berndt, D. Spahrbier, "Batteries" in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2005, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a03_343
- ^ "Toyota Prius Hybrid 2010 Model Emergency Response Guide". Toyota Motor Corporation. 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-10-29. http://www.webcitation.org/62ngVS3FD.
- ^ Thomas Eisner, For the Love of Insects, Harvard University Press 2003, p. 71
- ^ Römpp Chemie-Lexikon, 9th Ed. (in German)
- ^ Testing Chemical Reactions at MushroomExpert.com
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Look at other dictionaries:
potassium hydroxide — n a white deliquescent solid KOH that dissolves in water with much heat to form a strongly alkaline liquid and that is used as a powerful caustic and in the making of pharmaceuticals called also caustic potash * * * [NF] an alkalizer used in… … Medical dictionary
potassium hydroxide — n. a white, crystalline salt or deliquescent solid, KOH, used in the manufacture of soap, glass, etc.: it is a very strong alkali and absorbs carbon dioxide from the air … English World dictionary
potassium hydroxide — kalio hidroksidas statusas T sritis chemija formulė KOH atitikmenys: angl. potassium hydroxide rus. едкий калий; калия гидрокись ryšiai: sinonimas – kalio šarmas … Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas
potassium hydroxide — noun a potassium compound often used in agriculture and industry • Syn: ↑potash, ↑caustic potash • Hypernyms: ↑hydroxide, ↑hydrated oxide, ↑lye … Useful english dictionary
potassium hydroxide — Chem. a white, deliquescent, water soluble solid, KOH, usually in the form of lumps, sticks, or pellets, that upon solution in water generates heat: used chiefly in the manufacture of soap, as a laboratory reagent, and as a caustic. Also called… … Universalium
potassium hydroxide — noun Date: 1869 a white deliquescent solid KOH that dissolves in water with much heat to form a strongly alkaline and caustic liquid and is used chiefly in making soap and as a reagent … New Collegiate Dictionary
potassium hydroxide — noun The alkaline base KOH, once known as caustic potash; it has a number of industrial uses, including the manufacture of bleach … Wiktionary
potassium hydroxide — n. KOH, caustic potash, toxic and very corrosive white chemical (used in the soap and bleach industry) … English contemporary dictionary
potassium hydroxide — noun a strongly alkaline white deliquescent compound used in many industrial processes, e.g. soap manufacture. [KOH.] … English new terms dictionary
potassium hydroxide — potas′sium hydrox′ide n. chem. a white, deliquescent, water soluble solid, KOthat upon solution in water generates heat: used chiefly in the manufacture of soap, as a reagent, and as a caustic • Etymology: 1880–85 … From formal English to slang