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Information @ a Glance

Introduction

  • The chemical compound potassium chloride (KCl) is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. In its pure state it is odorless. It has a white or colorless vitreous crystal, with a crystal structure that cleaves easily in three directions.
  • Potassium chloride crystals are face-centered cubic. Potassium chloride is also commonly known as "Muriate of Potash". Potash varies in color from pink or red to white depending on the mining and recovery process used.
  • White potash, sometimes referred to as soluble potash, is usually higher in analysis and is used primarily for making liquid starter fertilizers.
  • Potassium chloride is an essential constituent of the body for intracellular osmotic pressure and buffering, cell permeability, acid-base balance, muscle contraction and nerve function.

Extraction Process

  • Potassium chloride occurs naturally as sylvite, and it can be extracted from sylvinite.
  • It is also extracted from salt water and can be manufactured by crystallization from solution, flotation or electrostatic separation from suitable minerals.
  • It is a by-product of the making of nitric acid from potassium nitrate and hydrochloric acid.

Application

  • The majority of the potassium chloride produced is used for making fertilizer, since the growth of many plants is limited by their potassium intake.
  • As a chemical feedstock it is used for the manufacture of potassium hydroxide and potassium metal.
  • It is also used in medicine, scientific applications, food processing, and as a sodium-free substitute for table salt (sodium chloride).
  • Potassium chloride is also used as the third of a three drug combination in judicial execution through lethal injection.
  • It is sometimes used in water as a completion fluid in petroleum and natural gas operations, as well as being an alternative to sodium chloride in household water softener units.

Report

  • One of the most severe adverse effects is hyperkalemia. There have also been reports of upper and lower gastrointestinal conditions including obstruction, bleeding, ulceration, and perforation.
  • The most common adverse reactions to oral potassium salts are nausea, vomiting, flatulence, abdominal pain/discomfort, and diarrhea. These symptoms are due to irritation of the gastrointestinal tract and are best managed by diluting the preparation further, taking the dose with meals or reducing the amount taken at one time.
  • In water, potassium chloride is highly water soluble, and readily undergoes dissociation. In soil, transport/leaching of potassium and chloride is affected by the clay minerals, pH, and organic matter.
  • World-wide production figures for KCl exceed 1 million metric tons/year. Virtually all commercial KCl is extracted from natural sources of the substance. More than 90 % of the total KCl consumption is used for fertilizer production.

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