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Potash Potash has been used since antiquity in the manufacture of glass and soap, and as a fertilizer.

The History Says

Until the 20th century, potash was one of the most important industrial chemicals in Europe. It was produced primarily in the forested areas of Europe, Russia and North America, refined from the ashes of broadleaved trees.

The Present Scenario

Today, only 12 countries produce the world's supply of potash. The main producers are North America, the Middle East, Russia and Belarus.

Potash, or carbonate of potash, is in fact a mixture of potassium salt with impure form of potassium carbonate (K2CO3). In other words, it is the common term used for the fertiliser forms of the element potassium (K). The name has been derived from the collection water-soluble fraction of wood ash in metal pots when its beneficial fertiliser properties were first recognised many centuries ago.

Potassium occurs abundantly in nature, being the 7th most common element in the earths crust. Some clay minerals which are associated with heavy soils are rich sources of potassium. They contain as much as 17% of K. Sea water contains 390 mg/l K. In rain water, a small quantity of K occurs, up to 4 ppm.

Potash bearing rock deposits occur in many regions of the world. They are derived from the minerals in ancient seas dried up millions of years ago. Fertiliser potash is mostly derived from these potash rocks. It requires only separation from the salt and other minerals.

Functions and Needs of Potash

Potassium fulfills numerous vital functions in various processes in plants, animals and man. Greater quantities of potash is taken-in and the surpluses are naturally excreted. Hence, it is naturally recycled widely and in large quantities. For adequate nutrient supply of potassium, soil reserves are essentially required, which commonly contain more potassium than any other nutrient, including nitrogen.

For an adult human being, approximately 2 gram of K is required per day and the typical intakes are 2.8-4.5 grams/day. One good thing of potash is that there are no health risks associated with this element. The rich sources of this nutrient in human diet are milk, fruit juice, root vegetables and bananas.

Chemical Compounds Containing Potassium

A number of chemical compounds containing potassium, use the word "potash" in their traditional names. They are as follows:
Potash fertilizer Potassium oxide (K2O)
Caustic potash Potassium hydroxide (KOH)
Carbonate of potash, salts of tartar, or pearlash Potassium carbonate (K2CO3)
Chlorate of potash Potassium chlorate (KClO3)
Muriate of potash Potassium chloride (KCl)
Nitrate of potash or saltpeter Potassium nitrate (KNO3)
Sulfate of potash Potassium sulfate (K2SO4)

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