There are a number of different ways to quantify the density of an element such as potassium. The metric quantification of its mass is 0.89 grams per cubic centimeter. That translates to 0.51 ounces per cubic inch, 55.6 pounds per cubic foot and 119 ounces per imperial gallon.
The density of potassium is less than that of water, so at room temperature, it is in solid form. Potassium is extracted from a quartet of different minerals: carnallite, langbeinite, polyhalite and sulvite. These are found in two main places on the globe: German and the American Southwest (Utah, New Mexico, California).
Purely extracted potassium is highly malleable. It is a soft, wax-like metal than can be easily cut for example with a putty knife. When combined with oxygen, it becomes potassium superoxide; similarly, water added to the equation turns this alkaline mineral into potassium hydroxide, a highly flammable gas. Because of potassium’s highly reactive nature, it is usually stored in mineral oil.
Various Product Uses
Two of the most common commercial products that make use of potassium are gunpowder and fertilizer. Soap, glass and medical uses are some of this element’s other commercial applications.
In each case, potassium is compounded for these commercial uses. In the case of fertilizer for example, potassium chloride, or KCI, is used. Surprisingly, this same compound can also sometimes be found in kitchens as a salt substitute. For soaps, detergents and drain cleaners, potassium is combined with hydroxide to form KOH, or potassium hydroxide.
Soaps also sometimes are made with potassium carbonate (KHCO3), while other more complicated compound forms are used for respiratory equipment, match heads and some fireworks.
Another way to define density is by noting an element’s atomic weight. In the case of potassium, that mark is 39.0983 amu’s. The acronym “amu” stands for atomic mass units, and the atomic weight basically refers to the microscopic weight of the matter, at the molecular level.
Jefferson Lab – The Element Potassium, Retrieved February 15, 2011 from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele019.html
Engineering Toolbox – Density Converter, Retrieved February 15, 2011 from http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/density-converter-d_1038.html
Periodic Table UK – The Element Potassium, Retrieved February 15, 2011 from http://www.periodic-table.org.uk/element-potassium.htm