Halogen Compounds.-Potassium fluoride, KF, is a very deliquescent salt, crystallizing in cubes and having a sharp saline taste, which is formed by neutralizing potassium carbonate or hydroxide with hydrofluoric acid and concentrating in platinum vessels. It forms the acid fluoride KHF2 when dissolved in aqueous hydrofluoric acid, a salt which at a red heat gives the normal fluoride and hydrofluoric acid. Other salts of composition KF-2HF and KF- 3HF, have been described by Moissan (Compt. fend., 1888, IO6, p. 547).
Potassium chloride, KCl, also known as muriate of potash, closely resembles ordinary salt. It is produced in immense quantities at Stassfurt from the so-called “ Abraumsalze." For the purpose of the manufacturer of this salt these are assorted into a raw material containing approximately, in IOO parts, 55-65 of carnal lite (representing 16 parts of potassium chloride), 20-25 of common salt, I5-20 of kieserite; 2-4 of tachhydrite (CaCl2~2MgCl2-12H20), and minor components. This mixture is now wrought mainly in two ways. (I) The salt is dissolved in water with the help of steam, and the solution is cooled down to from 60° to 70°, when a quantity of impure common salt crystallizes out, which is removed. The decanted ley deposits on standing a 70% potassium chloride, which is purified by washing with cold water. Common salt principally goes into solution, and the percentage may thus be brought up to from 80 to 95. The mother-liquor from the 70% chloride is evaporated, the common salt which separates out in the heat removed as it appears, and the sufficiently concentrated liquor allowed to crystallize, when almost pure carnal lite separates out, which is easily decomposed into its components (see infra). (2) Ziervogel and Tuchen's method.-The crude salt is ground up and then heated in a concentrated solution of magnesium chloride with agitation. The carnal lite principally dissolves and crystallizes out relatively pure on cooling. The mother-liquor is used for a subsequent extraction of fresh raw salt. The carnal lite produced is dissolved in hot water and the solution allowed to cool, when it deposits a coarse granular potassium chloride containing up to 99 Z0 of the pure substance. The undissolved residue produced in either process consists chiefly of kieserite and common salt. It is worked up either for Epsom salt and common salt, or for sodium sulphate and magnesium chloride. The potassiferous by-products are utilized for the manufacture of manures. Chemically pure chloride of potassium is most conveniently prepared from the pure perchlorate by heating it in a platinum basin at the lowest temperature and then fusing the residue in a well covered platinum crucible. The fused product solidifies on cooling into a colourless glass.
When hydrochloric acid gas is passed into the solution the salt is completely precipitated as a fine powder. If the original solution contained the chlorides of magnesium or calcium or sulphate of potassium all impurities remain in the mother-liquor (the sulphur as KHSO4), and can be removed by washing the precipitate with strong hydrochloric acid. The salt crystallizes in cubes of specific gravity 1.995; it melts at about 800° and volatilizes at a bright red heat. When melted in a current of hydrogen or electrolysed in the same condition, a dark blue mass is obtained of uncertain composition. It is extensively employed for the preparation of other potassium salts, but the lar est quantity (especially of the impure product) is used in the procfuction of artificial manures. Potassium bromide, KBr, may be obtained by dissolving bromine in potash, whereupon bromide and bromate are first formed, evaporating and igniting the product in order to decompose the bromate: GKHO -l- 3Br¢=5KBr -l- KBrO3 -1- 31-l2O; 2KBrO3 = 2KBr + 30; (cf. CHLORATES); but it is manufactured by acting with bromine water on iron filings and decomposing the iron bromide thus formed with potassium carbonate. In appearance it closely resembles the chloride, forming colourless cubes which readily dissolve in water and melt at 722°. It combines with bromine to form an unstable tribromide, KBr;i (see F. P. Vorley, Journ. Chem. Soc., 1905, 87, p. 1107).
Potassium iodide, KI, is obtained by dissolving iodine in potash, the deoxidation of the iodate being facilitated by the addition of charcoal before ignition, proceeding as with the bromide. The commercial salt usually has an alkaline reaction; it may be purified by dissolving in the minimum amount of water, and neutralizing with dilute sulphuric acid; alcohol is now added to precipitate the potassium sulphate, the solution filtered and crystallized. It forms colourless cubes which are readily soluble in water, melt at 685°, and yield a vapour of normal density. It is sparingly soluble in absolute alcohol. Both the iodide and bromide are used in photography. Iodine dissolves in an aqueous solution of the salt to form a dark brown liquid, which on evaporation over sulphuric acid gives black acicular crystals of the tri-iodide, K13. This salt is very deliquescent; it melts at 45°, and at 100° decomposes into iodine and potassium iodide. For the oxyhalogen salts see CHLORATE, CHLORINE, BROMINE and IODINE. Potassium carbonate, KQCO3, popularly known as “ potashes, " was originally obtained in countries where wood was cheap by lixiviating wood ashes in wooden tubs, evaporating the solution to dryness in iron pots and calcining the residue; in more recent practice the calcination is carried out in reverberatory furnaces. This product, known as “crude potashes, " contains, in addition to carbonate, varying amounts of sulphate and chloride and also insoluble matter. Crude potash is used for the manufacture of glass, and, after being causticized, for the making of soft soap. For many other purposes it must be refined, which is done by treating the crude product with the minimum of cold water required to dissolve the carbonate, removing the undissolved part (which consists chiefly of sulphate), and evaporating the clear liquor to dryness in an iron pan. The purified carbonate (which still contains most of the chloride of the raw material and other impurities) is known as “ pearl ashes." Large quantities of carbonate used to be manufactured from the aqueous residue left in the distillation of beet-root spirit, Le. indirectly from beet-root molasses. The liquors are evaporated to dryness and the residue is ignited to obtain a very impure carbonate, which is purified by methods founded on the different solubilities of the several components. Most of the carbonate which now occurs in commerce is made from the chloride of the Stassfurt beds by an adaptation of the “ Leblanc process” for the conversion of common salt into soda ash (see ALKALI MANUFACTURE).
Chemically pure carbonate of potash is best prepared by igniting pure bicarbonate (see below) in iron or (better) in silver or platinum vessels, or else by calcining pure cream of tartar. The latter operation furnishes an intimate mixture of the carbonate with charcoal, from which the carbonate is extracted by lixiviation with water and filtration. The filtrate is evaporated to dr ness (in iron or platinum vessels) and the residue fully dehycliated by gentle ignition. The salt is thus obtained as a white porous mass, fusible at a red heat (838° C., Carnelley) into a colourless liquid, which solidifies into a white opaque mass. The dry salt is very hygroscopic; it deliquesces into an oily solution (“ oleum tartari ) in ordinary air. The most saturated solution contains 205 parts of the salt to 100 of water and boils at 135°. On crystallizing a solution mono clinic crystals of 2K2CO3.3H2O are deposited, which at 100° lose water and give a white powder of K2CO3.I-120; this is completely dehydrated at 130°. The carbonate, being insoluble in strong alcohol (and many' other liquid organic compounds), is much used for dehydration of the corresponding aqueous preparations. The pure carbonate is constantly used in the laboratory as a basic substance generally, for the disintegration of silicates, and as a precipitant. The industrial preparation serves for the making of flint glass, of potash soap (soft soap) and of caustic potash. Potassium bicarbonate, KHCO3, is obtained when carbonic acid is passed through a cold solution of the ordinary carbonate as long as it is absorbed. Any silicate present is also converted into bicarbonate with elimination of silica, which must be filtered oil. The filtrate is evaporated at a temperature not exceeding 60° or at most 70° C.; after sufficient concentration it deposits on cooling anhydrous crystals of the salt, while the potassium chloride, which may be present as an impurity, remains mostly in the mother liquor; the rest is easily removed by repeated recrystallization. If an absolutely pure preparation is wanted it is best to follow Wohler and start with the “ black flux ” produced by the ignition of pure bit art rate. The flux is moistened with water and exposed to a current of carbonic acid, which, on account of the condensing action of the charcoal, is absorbed with great avidity. The bicarbonate forms large mono clinic prisms, permanent in the air. When the dry salt is heated to 190° it decomposes into normal carbonate, carbon dioxide and water.
Potassium sulphide, KZS, was obtained by Berzelius in pale red crystals by passing hydrogen over potassium sulphate, and by Berthier as a flesh-coloured mass by heating the sulphate with carbon. It appears, however, that these products contain higher sulphides. On saturating a solution of caustic potash with sulphuretted hydrogen and adding a second equivalent of alkali, a solution is obtained which on evaporation in a vacuum deposits crystals of K2S.5H2O. The solution is strongly caustic. It turns yellow on exposure to air, absorbing oxygen and carbon dioxide and forming thiosulphate and potassium carbonate and liberating sulphuretted hydrogen, which decomposes into water and sulphur, the latter combining with the mono sulphide to form higher salts. The solution also decomposes on boiling. The hydrosul hide, KHS, was obtained by Gay-Lussac on heating the metal in suT)phuretted hydrogen, and by Berzelius on acting with sulphuretted hydrogen on potassium carbonate at a dull red heat. It forms a yellowish white deliquescent mass, which melts on heating, and at a sufficiently high temperature it yields a dark red liquid. It is readily soluble in water, and on evaporation in a vacuum over caustic lime it deposits colourless, rhombohedral crystals of 2KHS.H2O. The solution is more easily prepared by saturating potash solution with sulphuretted hydrogen. The solution has a bitter taste, and on exposure to the air turns yellow, but on long exposure it recovers its original colourless appearance owing to the formation of thiosulphate. Liver of sulphur or hepar sulphur is, a medicine known to the alchemists, is a mixture of various poly sulphides with the sulphate and thiosulphate, in variable proportions, obtained by gently heating the carbonate with sulphur in covered vessels. It forms a liver-coloured mass. In the pharmacopoeia it is designated potassa sulphurata.
Potassium sulphite, KQSO3, is prepared by saturating a potash solution with sulphur dioxide, adding a second equivalent of potash,