Why is potassium reactive?

Potassium atomic number

It is the fifth lightest and lightest metal; it is a soft solid that is easily cut with a knife, has a very low melting point, burns with a violet flame and has a silvery color on surfaces exposed to air, on contact with which it oxidizes rapidly, making it necessary to store it coated with oil.

The K+ ion is present at the ends of the chromosomes (in the telomeres) stabilizing the structure. Likewise, the hexahydrate ion (as well as the corresponding magnesium ion) stabilizes the structure of DNA and RNA by compensating for the negative charge of the phosphate groups.

The sodium pump is a mechanism by which the required concentrations of K+ and Na+ ions are achieved inside and outside the cell – higher concentrations of K+ ions inside the cell than outside – to enable nerve impulse transmission.

It is one of the essential elements for plant growth – it is one of the three elements consumed in greatest quantity – since the potassium ion, which is found in most types of soil, is involved in respiration.

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Potassium electrons

It is a silvery-white alkali metal, abundant in nature in elements related to salt water and other minerals. It oxidizes rapidly in air, is very reactive, especially in water, and chemically resembles sodium.

It constitutes about 2.4% by weight of the earth’s crust and is the seventh most abundant. Due to its solubility it is very difficult to obtain the pure metal from its ores. Even so, there are large deposits of potassium minerals (carnallite, langbeinite, polyhalite and sylvinite) in ancient sea and lake beds where extraction of the metal and its salts is economically viable.

Potassium is the major cation in the intracellular fluid of the human organism. It is involved in the maintenance of normal water balance, osmotic balance between cells and interstitial fluid and acid-base balance, determined by the pH of the organism. Potassium is also involved in muscle contraction and regulation of neuromuscular activity by participating in the transmission of the nerve impulse through the action potentials of the human organism.

Potassium is a metal

It is the fifth lightest and lightest metal; it is a soft solid that cuts easily with a knife, has a very low melting point, burns with a violet flame and has a silvery color on surfaces exposed to air, on contact with which it oxidizes rapidly, making it necessary to store it coated with oil.

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The K+ ion is present at the ends of the chromosomes (in the telomeres) stabilizing the structure. Likewise, the hexahydrate ion (as well as the corresponding magnesium ion) stabilizes the structure of DNA and RNA by compensating for the negative charge of the phosphate groups.

The sodium pump is a mechanism by which the required concentrations of K+ and Na+ ions are achieved inside and outside the cell – higher concentrations of K+ ions inside the cell than outside – to enable nerve impulse transmission.

It is one of the essential elements for plant growth – it is one of the three elements consumed in greatest quantity – since the potassium ion, which is found in most types of soil, is involved in respiration.

Potassium valence

As is well known, water (H2O) is an amphoteric chemical species, i.e., it can act as an acid or a base, depending on what it is confronted with. The alkali metals (Li, Na, K, Rb, Cs and Fr) are very basic. Therefore, when they combine with water they exacerbate the acidic character of the latter and the following reaction analogous to the previous one can occur:

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(As an example, we have taken the alkali metal K.) This reaction is so exothermic that the H2 formed can ignite and even explode. In fact it does so when K, Rb or Cs are chosen for the experiment, but not with Na and Li. This can be seen in the video at the top of this post.