What happens when potassium reacts with water?


Quick Answer

When potassium reacts with water it catches fire, generating a purple glow. The result is a colorless solution.

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Full Answer

Potassium is a metal with a soft texture and it has a silvery appearance when cut, which becomes tarnished as it oxidizes in air. The metal belongs to the alkali group on the periodic table. Light enough to float on water, potassium has an instant reaction when it comes into contact with the fluid.

Adding potassium to water causes an instant chemical reaction that results in the temperature of the metal rising so high that it ignites. Hydrogen gas from the reaction coming into contact with oxygen in the air is what causes the potassium to catch fire. The metal then glows with a pale, lilac flame. The chemical reaction of potassium with water forms a potassium hydroxide solution that has no color along with the hydrogen gas.

Potassium is part of the nutritional needs of almost every organism, mainly present within cells, it plays a vital role in nerve stimulation, the regulation of blood pressure and the contraction of muscles. While potassium does not dissolve in water, there are potassium compounds that are water soluble, which are popular ingredients in fertilizers and detergents.

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