Does Potassium Conduct Electricity? (Answered)


Do you know that potassium also goes by muriate of potash, potassium muriate, and potassium chloride? Even so, potassium has other beneficial uses besides being well-known for its names. It can make fertilizers, potassium supplements, minerals, and electrolytes and serve as a salt substitute. Does that imply that potassium can conduct electricity?

We shall answer whether potassium conducts electricity and heat and give you a list of its properties. You’ll also learn what happens when you put potassium in water, dissolve potassium chloride and whether potassium reacts with oxygen.

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Does Potassium Conduct Electricity?

Potassium is a good conductor of electricity. It falls under soft alkali metals, easily cut with a knife. The soft metal has four outer shells, a large atomic radius, and one electron in the outermost shell. It can conduct electricity thanks to the free electrons. Any material must have free-flowing electrons to conduct electricity; this is a key requirement.

Numerous free electrons in potassium can carry an electric current. It requires less energy to remove the valence electron from the atom when one electron is present in the outermost shell.

The fact that potassium is an ionic compound should not be overlooked. When a substance is solid, charged ions are securely bound together to form these compounds. Due to its low ionization energy, potassium is also prone to losing charged electrons, making it possible to conduct electricity.

Why Does Potassium Conduct Electricity?

The nucleus of the potassium atom, which is surrounded by protons, neutrons, and electrons, makes up the atom. The number of electrons and protons in the nucleus is always equal. An atom stops being neutral and changes into an ion when an electron attaches to or separates. These ions are responsible for carrying the electric current.

Cations (positive charge) and anions(negative charge) are the two types of ions. An atom becomes an anion when an electron joins it. A neutral atom becomes a cation if one of the electrons slips out of orbit.

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Since potassium’s atomic number in the periodic table is 19, the element’s nucleus contains 19 protons. That means 19 electrons revolve around the nucleus.

Potassium has four orbits, and the electrons are arranged evenly on the orbits. The orbits move continuously. The first orbit has two and eight electrons each in the second and third orbits. The fourth orbit has only one electron, which strives to bond with the other atoms causing high chemical activity. As a result, the electrons in the final two orbits are shared.

Properties of Potassium

Potassium has a high chemical activity and quickly reacts with any surrounding substance. However, it still has all the property characteristics of metals.

The following table lists its most specific properties:

Chemical propertiesPhysical properties
-Its atom contains four energy levels.– Boiling point of 1420° F (770º C).
-Reacts vigorously with all non-metals.-Can float on water as potassium has a lesser density than water.
-Reacts with water and releases hydrogen gas.– Melting point of 145° F (63º C).
-Just like other alkali metals, it’s very reactive.-White-silvery in color
-Its crystal structure is a body-centered cubic.-Porous, soft element.
-Its atom contains 19 electrons and protons, and 20 neutrons.

Does Potassium Conduct Heat?

Due to the presence of free electrons, potassium is capable of conducting heat. The uncontrolled vibrations of the free electrons can cause them to exchange heat with one another. Due to free electrons and lattice vibrational vibrations(phonons), potassium can transmit heat. The vibrations allow the atoms to vibrate against each other, creating kinetic energy. 

Atoms have kinetic energy even when they are not moving. The heat is transferred when the unbound electrons collide with the other ions after they begin to move.

What Happens When You Put Potassium in Water?

Potassium is a soft metal that reacts vigorously with water. Potassium releases heat when it is submerged in water, which causes the potassium to ignite and produce hydrogen. You’ll watch potassium create a purple flame that sweeps fast across the water’s surface. Potassium hydroxide and hydrogen gas are the process’s final products, ending with a splash.

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Here is a brief demonstration of how potassium reacts with water:

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The following is the atomic equation for the above reaction:

  • 2K + 2H₂O = 2KOH + H₂↑

When putting potassium in water, you should exercise caution because the reaction might quickly burn you. Avoid approaching the potassium plus water reaction or observing what happens once the hydrogen stops burning. As this is the last step, a little explosion and hot alkali will erupt.

The product is a white liquid made of potassium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. The solution is basic because hydroxide has been dissolved in it.  

Does Potassium Chloride Dissolve in Water?

In water, potassium chloride (KCI) dissolves readily. It is a potassium and chlorine-containing metal halide salt. Potassium dissolves in water in its solid state and separates into a cation (K+) and an anion (CI-). The solution is salty. Your body needs potassium chloride because your heart would stop beating without it.

The ions in potassium chloride are hydrated as it dissolves. The polar water molecules are attracted to the potassium chloride’s ion charges. Positive (hydrogen) ends of polar water molecules are attracted to the negative potassium chloride ions via ion-dipole forces. At the same time, the positive potassium ions are drawn to the negative (oxygen) water molecules.

As mentioned above, the water molecules surrounding the K+ and the CI- weaken the interionic interactions that hold the ions together during the process. Ion-dipole forces enable the dissolving of potassium chloride in water.


When you dissolve potassium chloride in water, you get a saline solution. You are left with a residue that is still potassium chloride if you choose to boil the solution until it evaporates. After dissolving in water, potassium chloride doesn’t undergo any chemical change.

There is only a physical alteration. Its state is reversible when potassium chloride dissolves in water and turns into a solution. The original potassium chloride can still be returned without changing its molecular makeup or physical characteristics.

Does Potassium React With Oxygen?

When exposed to air, potassium, a reactive metal, readily combines with oxygen to produce white potassium peroxide. Oxygen and potassium are both reactive; hence an explosive reaction will result. There is a significant energy discharge, and you probably see a violet flame. Most of the time, potassium combines with too much oxygen to form potassium superoxide.

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Here are the two likely equations: 

  • Potassium peroxide =  2 K(s) + O2(g) = K2O2(s) – lilac flame
  • Potassium superoxide= K(s) + O2(g) = KO2(s) – orange flame

Check out how potassium reacts with oxygen: Reaction of Potassium and Oxygen

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you touch potassium metal?

Potassium metal would react with the water on your hands to form a hydroxide salt. It is highly corrosive to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Contact with potassium metal will result in severe skin burns.

Is potassium stronger than lithium?

Compared to lithium, potassium is more reactive because its valence electron is less tightly bonded. Since potassium has more electron shells, its metallic structure is stronger. After lithium, it is the second least dense metal.

What are the common uses of potassium? 

A potassium-rich diet has many health benefits for the human body. Highlighted below are its most common uses: 
1. The body uses potassium to control fluid balance, control muscle contractions, and deliver nerve signals. Because it functions as an electrolyte once within your body, it can do this.
2. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure by assisting the body in excreting extra sodium. High sodium levels increase blood pressure.
3. Potassium may lessen the risk of osteoporosis by lowering the amount of calcium the body excretes in urine.
4. It aids in the prevention of kidney stones. The kidneys frequently contain the mineral calcium, and potassium citrate reduces the calcium levels in urine. Potassium citrate is present in a variety of fruits and vegetables.
5. By lowering sodium levels and increasing urine output, a high potassium intake reduces water retention. When the body fills up with extra fluid, water retention occurs

Is potassium chloride harmful to humans?

With a prescription, potassium chloride can be purchased as an injectable, soluble powder, release tablet, or ready-made solution. Observe the directions on the manufacturer’s or doctor’s label. However, in the instances listed below, you should refrain from consuming potassium chloride.

If you have chronic kidney illness.
If you are taking other drugs that make your body produce more potassium.
If you suffer from type 1 diabetes, congestive heart failure, liver disease, or adrenal insufficiency.


Potassium is a good electrical conductor because it has free electrons, which serve as electric charge carriers. Heat transfer is facilitated by the same mobile electrons and lattice vibrations that contribute to kinetic energy.

With most compounds, the metal appears to have an active reaction. When viewing processes involving water and oxygen, exercise caution. In both situations, sparks may likely fly, which might catch you off guard. There is just a physical change, not a chemical one when potassium dissolves in water.

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