(So named (Dutch: potasch, "potash") in 1807 by Humphry Davy, who first isolated it from potash) A soft, silver-white, waxlike metallic chemical element, one of the alkali metals, that oxidizes rapidly when exposed to air. It occurs abudantly in nature in the form of its salts, which are used primarily in fertilizers. Potassium compounds are also used in making explosives, in making soaps and detergents, and in tanning leather and dyeing textiles. Potassium is essential to life, and non-toxic. One of its natural isotopes is radioactive, and although this radioactivity is mild, it may be one natural cause of genetic mutation in man.
(at room temperature
): 0.862 g
Ground state electron configuration