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Potash () includes various mined and manufactured
salts In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
that contain
potassium Potassium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

potassium
in water-
soluble Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid or gaseous chemical substance called ''solution, solute'' to dissolve in a solid, liquid or gaseous solvent. The solubility of a substance fundamentally depends on the Physical property, physical an ...
form.Potash
USGS 2008 Minerals Yearbook
The name derives from ''pot ash'', which refers to plant ashes or
wood ash Wood ash is the powdery residue remaining after the combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temper ...

wood ash
soaked in water in a pot, which was the primary means of manufacturing the product before the
Industrial Era The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machi ...
. The word "potassium" is derived from "potash". Potash is produced worldwide in amounts exceeding 90 million
tonne The tonne ( or ; symbol: t) is a metric unit of mass equal to 1,000 kilogram The kilogram (also kilogramme) is the base unit of mass Mass is the physical quantity, quantity of ''matter'' in a physical body. It is also a meas ...
s (40 million tonnes K2O equivalent) per year, mostly for use in
fertilizer A fertilizer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American E ...

fertilizer
. Various kinds of fertilizer-potash constitute the single greatest industrial use of the element potassium in the world. Potassium was first derived in 1807 by
electrolysis In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms ...

electrolysis
of caustic potash (
potassium hydroxide Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the ch ...

potassium hydroxide
).


Terminology

Potash refers to potassium compounds and potassium-bearing materials, most commonly potassium carbonate. The word "potash" originates from the
Middle Dutch Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic languages, West Germanic dialects whose ancestor was Old Dutch and was spoken and written between 1150 and 1500. The language served as a minority language in the Holy ...
"''potaschen''", denoting "pot ashes" in 1477. The old method of making
potassium carbonate Potassium carbonate is the inorganic compound with the formula K2 CO3. It is a white salt, which is soluble in water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color o ...

potassium carbonate
() was by collecting or producing
wood ash Wood ash is the powdery residue remaining after the combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temper ...

wood ash
(the occupation of
ash burner The job of an ash burner (german: Aschenbrenner) or potash burner (''Pottaschbrenner'') was to burn wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with ...
s), leaching the ashes, and then evaporating the resulting solution in large iron pots, which left a white residue denominated "pot ash". Approximately 10% by weight of common
wood ash Wood ash is the powdery residue remaining after the combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temper ...

wood ash
can be recovered as potash. Later, "potash" became widely applied to naturally occurring potassium salts and the commercial product derived from them, although it most probably derived its name (where it was used) from the anion of the acid that replaced the carbonate
moiety Moiety may refer to: * Moiety (chemistry), a part or functional group of a molecule * Moiety (kinship), either of two groups into which a society is divided * A division of society in the Iroquois government and societal structure * An Australian Ab ...
, a common equivocative use of "potash" for "potassium". The following table lists a number of potassium compounds which have "potash" in their traditional names:


Production

All commercial potash deposits come originally from
evaporite An evaporite () is a water-soluble Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid or gaseous chemical substance called ''solution, solute'' to dissolve in a solid, liquid or gaseous solvent. The solubility of a substance fundamentally depend ...
deposits and are often buried deep below the earth's surface. Potash ores are typically rich in potassium chloride (KCl), sodium chloride (NaCl) and other salts and clays, and are typically obtained by conventional shaft mining with the extracted ore ground into a powder. Other methods include dissolution mining and evaporation methods from brines. In the evaporation method, hot water is injected into the potash which is dissolved and then pumped to the surface where it is concentrated by solar induced evaporation.
Amine In organic chemistry, amines (, ) are compounds Compound may refer to: Architecture and built environments * Compound (enclosure), a cluster of buildings having a shared purpose, usually inside a fence or wall ** Compound (fortification), ...

Amine
reagents are then added to either the mined or evaporated solutions. The amine coats the KCl but not NaCl. Air bubbles cling to the amine + KCl and float it to the surface while the NaCl and clay sink to the bottom. The surface is skimmed for the amine + KCl which is then dried and packaged for use as a K rich fertilizer—KCl dissolves readily in water and is available quickly for
plant nutrition Plant nutrition is the study of the chemical elements and Chemical compound, compounds necessary for plant growth, plant metabolism and their external supply. In its absence the plant is unable to complete a normal life cycle, or that the element i ...
. Potash deposits can be found all over the world. At present, deposits are being mined in Canada, Russia, China, Belarus, Israel, Germany, Chile, the United States, Jordan, Spain, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan and Brazil, with the most significant deposits present in
Saskatchewan ("From Many Peoples Strength") , image_map = Saskatchewan in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English language, English , capital = Regina, S ...
, Canada.


Occupational hazards

Excessive respiratory disease has been a concern for potash miners throughout history due to environmental hazards, such as
radon Radon is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that c ...

radon
and
asbestos Asbestos (pronounced: or ) is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral Silicate minerals are rock-forming mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fair ...
. Potash miners are liable to develop
silicosis Silicosis is a form of occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust. It is marked by inflammation and scarring in the form of nodular lesions in the upper lobes of the lungs. It is a type of pneumoconiosis. Silico ...

silicosis
. Based on a study done between 1977 and 1987, cardiovascular disease among potash workers, the overall mortality rates were low, but a noticeable difference in above-ground workers was documented.


History of production

Potash (especially potassium carbonate) has been used in bleaching textiles, making
glass Glass is a non- crystalline, often transparency and translucency, transparent amorphous solid, that has widespread practical, technological, and decorative use in, for example, window panes, tableware, and optics. Glass is most often formed by ...

glass
, ceramic, and making
soap Soap is a salt (chemistry), salt of a fatty acid used in a variety of cleansing and lubricating products. In a domestic setting, soaps are surfactants usually used for washing, bathing, and other types of housekeeping. In industrial settings, ...

soap
, since the Bronze Age. Potash was principally obtained by leaching the ashes of land and sea plants. Beginning in the 14th century potash was mined in
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the ...

Ethiopia
. One of the world's largest deposits, 140 to 150 million tons, is located in the area of the
Afar Region Afar Region (; aa, Qafar; am, ዓፋር ክልል), formerly known as Region 2, is a regional state A regional state or a regionalised unitary state, is a term used to denote a type of state that is formally unitary but where a high degree of ...

Afar Region
.Ethiopia Mining
Photius.com. Retrieved on 2013-06-21.
Potash was one of the most important industrial chemicals. It was refined from the ashes of broadleaved trees and produced primarily in the forested areas of Europe,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
, and
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
. Although methods for producing artificial alkalis were invented in the late eighteenth century, these did not become economical until the late nineteenth century and so the dependence on organic sources of potash remained. Potash became an important international trade commodity in Europe from at least the early fourteenth century. It is estimated that European imports of potash required 6 or more million cubic metres each year from the early seventeenth century. Between 1420 and 1620, the primary exporting cities for were Danzig, Königsberg and Riga. From the 1640s, geopolitical disruptions meant that the centres of export moved from the Baltic to Archangel, Russia. In 1700, Russian ash was dominant though Danzig remained notable for the quality of its potash. In the late fifteenth century, London was the lead importer due to its position as the centre of soft soap making while the Dutch dominated as suppliers and consumers in the sixteenth century.Paul Warde, 'Trees, Trade and Textiles: Potash Imports and Ecological Dependency in British Industry, C .1550–1770', Past & resent, 240, 1, 2018, 47-82 The first U.S. patent of any kind was issued in 1790 to Samuel Hopkins for an improvement "in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process". ''Pearl ash'' was a purer quality made by
calcination Calcination refers to heating a solid to high temperatures in absence of air or oxygen, generally for the purpose of removing impurities or volatile substances. However, calcination is also used to mean a thermal treatment Thermal treatment is any ...
of potash in a
reverberatory furnace A reverberatory furnace is a metallurgy, metallurgical or process Metallurgical furnace, furnace that isolates the material being processed from contact with the fuel, but not from contact with combustion gases. The term ''reverberation'' is used ...
or kiln.
Potash pit Potash pits were kiln sites which were dug and lined with drystone walling for the production of potash prior to the Industrial Revolution. The Wool, scouring or degreasing of the natural lanolin from wool requires the application of soft soap produ ...
s were once used in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
to produce potash that was used in making soap for the preparation of wool for yarn production. By the eighteenth century, higher quality American potash was increasingly imported to Britain. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, potash production provided settlers in North America a way to obtain badly needed cash and credit as they cleared wooded land for crops. To make full use of their land, settlers needed to dispose of excess wood. The easiest way to accomplish this was to burn any wood not needed for fuel or construction. Ashes from
hardwood is a popular hardwood Hardwood is wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the Plant stem, stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic materiala natural composite material, composite of cellulos ...

hardwood
trees could then be used to make
lye A lye is a metal hydroxideMetal hydroxides are hydroxides of metals. They are often strong base (chemistry), bases. They consist of hydroxide anions and metallic cations. Some metal hydroxides, such as alkali metal hydroxides, ionize completel ...

lye
, which could either be used to make soap or boiled down to produce valuable potash. Hardwood could generate ashes at the rate of 60 to 100
bushel A bushel (abbreviation: bsh. or bu.) is an imperial Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imperial, California * Imperial, Missouri * Imperi ...
s per acre (500 to 900 m³/km2). In 1790, ashes could be sold for $3.25 to $6.25 per acre ($800 to $1,500/km2) in rural
New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Colu ...
– nearly the same rate as hiring a laborer to clear the same area. Potash making became a major industry in British North America. Great Britain was always the most important market. The American potash industry followed the woodsman's ax across the country. After about 1820, New York replaced New England as the most important source; by 1840 the center was in Ohio. Potash production was always a by-product industry, following from the need to clear land for
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
.Robert C. Fit
Origin and occurrence of commercial potash deposits
, ''Academy of Sciences for 1951'', p. 123
On the
Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island A ...

Orkney
islands as early as 1719 for a century,
kelp Kelps are large brown algae The brown algae (singular: alga), comprising the class (biology), class Phaeophyceae, are a large group of multicellular algae, including many seaweeds located in colder waters within the Northern Hemisphere. Most b ...

kelp
ash provided potash and
soda ash Sodium carbonate, , (also known as washing soda, soda ash and soda crystals) is the inorganic compound with the formula Na2CO3 and its various hydrates. All forms are white, water-soluble salts that yield moderately alkaline solutions in water. H ...
, "substances eagerly sought after by the glass and soap industries of the time." From 1767, potash from wood ashes was exported from Canada. By 1811, 70% of the total 19.6 million lbs of potash imports to Britain came from Canada. Exports of potash and pearl ash reached 43,958 barrels in 1865. There were 519 asheries in operation in 1871. The industry declined in the late 19th century when large-scale production of potash from mineral salts was established in
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
. In 1943, potash was discovered in
Saskatchewan ("From Many Peoples Strength") , image_map = Saskatchewan in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English language, English , capital = Regina, S ...
, Canada, in the process of drilling for oil. Active exploration began in 1951. In 1958, the Potash Company of America became the first potash producer in Canada with the commissioning of an underground potash mine at Patience Lake; however, due to water seepage in its shaft, production stopped late in 1959 but following extensive grouting and repairs, resumed in 1965. The underground mine was flooded in 1987 and was reactivated for commercial production as a solution mine in 1989. In 1964 a Canadian company known as Kalium Chemicals established the first potash mine that took advantage of the solution process. The discovery was made during oil reserve exploration. The mine was developed near Regina, Saskatchewan. The mine reached depths greater than 1500 meters. Mosaic's, Belle Plaine had later gone to undertake the operation of the mine. Most of the world reserves of potassium (K) were deposited as sea water in ancient inland oceans. After the water evaporated, the potassium salts crystallized into beds of potash ore. These are the locations where potash is being mined today. The deposits are a naturally occurring mixture of potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl), more commonly known as
table salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of Salt (chemistry), salts; salt in the form of a natural crystallinity, crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite. ...
. Over time, as the surface of the earth changed, these deposits were covered by thousands of feet of earth. Most potash mines today are deep shaft mines as much as 4,400 feet (1,400 m) underground. Others are mined as strip mines, having been laid down in horizontal layers as
sedimentary rock Sedimentary rocks are types of rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...

sedimentary rock
. In above-ground processing plants, the KCl is separated from the mixture to produce a high-analysis potassium fertilizer. Other potassium salts can be separated by various procedures, resulting in potassium sulfate and potassium-magnesium sulfate. Today some of the world's largest known potash deposits are spread all over the world from
Saskatchewan ("From Many Peoples Strength") , image_map = Saskatchewan in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English language, English , capital = Regina, S ...
, Canada, to
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
,
Belarus , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Minsk Minsk ( be, Мінск , russian: link=no, Минск) is the capital and the largest city of Belarus, located on the Svislach (Berezina), Svislach and the now subterranean Nyamiha, Niam ...

Belarus
, Germany, and the Permian Basin. The Permian basin deposit includes the major mines outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico, to the world's purest potash deposit in
Lea County, New Mexico Lea County is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is der ...
(not far from the Carlsbad deposits), which is believed to be roughly 80% pure. (
Osceola County, Michigan Osceola County is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is de ...
has deposits 90+% pure; however, the only mine there was converted to salt production.) Canada is the largest producer, followed by Russia and Belarus. The most significant reserve of Canada's potash is located in the province of Saskatchewan and is mined by
The Mosaic Company The Mosaic Company is a Fortune 500 company based in Tampa, Florida, Tampa, Florida which mines phosphate and potash, and operates through segments such as international distribution and Mosaic Fertilizantes. It is the largest U.S. producer of po ...
,
Nutrien Nutrien is a Canada, Canadian fertilizer company based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It is the largest producer of potash and the third largest producer of nitrogen fertilizer in the world. It has 1,500 retail stores and more than 23,100 employees. ...
and
K+SKS and variants may refer to: Businesses and organizations * Kampfschwimmer, a German postwar commando frogman force * Kommandittselskap Kommandittselskap or KS is a Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or rel ...

K+S
. In
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, most potash deposits are concentrated in the deserts and salt flats of the
endorheic basins An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually ...
of its western provinces, particularly
Qinghai Qinghai (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Tsinghai, Ch'inghai), also known Kokonor, is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Northwest China, the northwest of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of ...

Qinghai
. Geological expeditions discovered the reserves in the 1950s. but commercial exploitation lagged until
Deng Xiaoping Deng Xiaoping (22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997), also known by his courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in ...

Deng Xiaoping
's Reform and Opening Up Policy in the 1980s. The 1989 opening of the Qinghai Potash Fertilizer Factory in the remote
Qarhan Playa The Qarhan Playa or also misleadingly described as , is a playa in the Golmud Golmud, also known by various other romanizations, is a county-level city A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly kno ...

Qarhan Playa
increased China's production of
potassium chloride Potassium chloride (KCl, or potassium salt) is a metal halide Metal halides are compounds between metals and halogens. Some, such as sodium chloride are ionic, while others are covalently bonded. Covalently bonded metal halides may be discrete m ...

potassium chloride
sixfold, from less than a year at Haixi and Tanggu to just under a year.. In the beginning of the 20th century, potash deposits were found in the in Musely and Crescent localities near the Ethiopean-
Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a ...

Eritrea
n border. The estimated reserves are 173 and 12 million tonnes for the Musely and Crescent, respectively. The latter is particularly suitable for surface mining; it was explored in the 1960s but the works stopped due to the flood in 1967. Attempts to continue mining in the 1990s were halted by the
Eritrean–Ethiopian War The Eritrean–Ethiopian War was a conflict that took place between Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinc ...
and have not resumed as of 2009. Recovery of potassium fertilizer salts from sea water has been studied in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
. During extraction of salt from seawater by evaporation, potassium salts get concentrated in
bittern Bitterns are birds belonging to the subfamily Botaurinae of the heron family Ardeidae The herons are long-legged, long-necked, freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae, with 64 recognised species, some of which are referred to as ...
, an effluent from the salt industry. In 2013, almost 70% of potash production was controlled by
Canpotex Canpotex, short for Canadian Potash Exporters , is a Canada, Canadian potash exporting and marketing firm, incorporated in 1970 and operating since 1972. Based in Saskatchewan, Canpotex manages the entire Saskatchewan potash exporting industry (excl ...
, an exporting and marketing firm, and the Belarusian Potash Company. The latter was a joint venture between Belaruskali and
Uralkali Uralkali ( rus, Уралка́лий, p=ʊrɐɫ'kalʲɪj) is a Russian potash fertilizer producer and exporter. It is traded on the Moscow Exchange using the symbol, URKA. The company’s assets consist of 5 mines and 7 ore-treatment mills situated ...

Uralkali
, but on July 30, 2013, Uralkali announced that it had ended the venture.


Consumption


Fertilizers

Potassium is the third major plant and crop nutrient after
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

nitrogen
and
phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical el ...

phosphorus
. It has been used since
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...

antiquity
as a
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
fertilizer A fertilizer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American E ...

fertilizer
(about 90% of current use). Elemental potassium does not occur in nature because it reacts violently with water. As part of various compounds, potassium makes up about 2.6% of the
Earth's crust Earth's crust is a thin shell on the outside of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The ...
by mass and is the seventh most abundant element, similar in abundance to sodium at approximately 1.8% of the crust. Potash is important for agriculture because it improves water retention, yield, nutrient value, taste, color, texture and disease resistance of food crops. It has wide application to fruit and vegetables, rice, wheat and other grains, sugar, corn, soybeans, palm oil and cotton, all of which benefit from the nutrient's quality-enhancing properties. Demand for food and animal feed has been on the rise since 2000. The
United States Department of Agriculture The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development, ...
's
Economic Research Service The Economic Research Service (ERS) is a component of the United States Department of Agriculture The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the federal executive department responsible ...
(ERS) attributes the trend to average annual population increases of 75 million people around the world. Geographically, economic growth in Asia and Latin America greatly contributed to the increased use of potash-based fertilizer. Rising incomes in developing countries also was a factor in the growing potash and fertilizer use. With more money in the household budget, consumers added more meat and dairy products to their diets. This shift in eating patterns required more acres to be planted, more fertilizer to be applied and more animals to be fed—all requiring more potash. After years of trending upward, fertilizer use slowed in 2008. The worldwide economic downturn is the primary reason for the declining fertilizer use, dropping prices, and mounting inventories. The world's largest consumers of potash are China, the United States, Brazil, and India.Supply and Demand
. Potassiodobrasil.com.br. Retrieved on 2013-06-21.
Brazil imports 90% of the potash it needs. Potash consumption for fertilizers is expected to increase to about 37.8 million tonnes by 2022. Potash imports and exports are often reported in K2O ''equivalent'', although fertilizer never contains potassium oxide, per se, because potassium oxide is
caustic Caustic most commonly refers to: * Causticity, a property of various corrosive substances ** Sodium hydroxide, sometimes called ''caustic soda'' ** Potassium hydroxide, sometimes called ''caustic potash'' ** Calcium oxide, sometimes called ''caustic ...
and
hygroscopic Hygroscopy is the phenomenon of attracting and holding water molecules via either absorption (chemistry), absorption or adsorption from the surrounding Natural environment, environment, which is usually at normal or room temperature. If water m ...
.


Pricing

At the beginning of 2008, potash prices started a meteoric climb from less than US$200 a tonne to a high of US$875 in February 2009. These subsequently dropped dramatically to an April 2010 low of US$310 level, before recovering in 2011–12, and relapsing again in 2013. For reference, prices in November 2011 were about US$470 per tonne, but as of May 2013 were stable at US$393. After the surprise breakup of the world's largest potash cartel at the end of July 2013, potash prices were poised to drop some 20 percent. At the end of Dec 2015, potash traded for US$295 a tonne. In April 2016 its price was US$269. In May 2017, prices had stabilised at around US$216 a tonne down 18% from the previous year. By January 2018, prices have been recovering to around US$225 a tonne. World potash demand tends to be price inelastic in the short-run and even in the long run.


Other uses

In addition to its use as a fertilizer, potassium chloride is important in many industrialized economies, where it is used in
aluminium recycling Aluminium recycling is the process by which scrap Scrap consists of recyclable Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. The recovery of energy from waste materials is often included ...
, by the chloralkali industry to produce potassium hydroxide, in metal
electroplating Electroplating is a general name for processes that produce a metal A metal (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Repu ...
, oil-well
drilling fluid In geotechnical engineering, drilling fluid, also called drilling mud, is used to aid the drilling of boreholes into the earth. Often used while drilling oil well, oil and natural gas wells and on exploration drilling rigs, drilling fluids a ...
, snow and ice melting, steel heat-treating, in medicine as a treatment for
hypokalemia Hypokalemia is a low level of potassium Potassium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and b ...
, and
water softening Water softening is the removal of calcium Calcium is a with the Ca and 20. As an , calcium is a reactive metal that forms a dark oxide-nitride layer when exposed to air. Its physical and chemical properties are most similar to its heavie ...
. Potassium hydroxide is used for industrial water treatment and is the precursor of potassium carbonate, several forms of potassium phosphate, many other potassic chemicals, and soap manufacturing. Potassium carbonate is used to produce
animal feed Animal feed is food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that emb ...
supplements,
cement A cement is a binder (material), binder, a substance used for construction that solidification, sets, hardens, and adheres to other materials to bind them together. Cement is seldom used on its own, but rather to bind sand and gravel (constru ...
,
fire extinguishers A fire extinguisher is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations. It is not intended for use on an out-of-control fire, such as one which has reached the ceiling, endangers the use ...

fire extinguishers
, food products, s, and textiles. It is also used in
brewing Brewing is the production of beer Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drink An alcoholic drink is a drink A drink (or beverage) is a liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In ph ...
beer Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drinks in the world, and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. Beer is brewing, brewed from cereal, cereal grains—most commonly from malted barley, though wh ...

beer
, pharmaceutical preparations, and as a
catalyst Catalysis () is the process of increasing the rate of a chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In cla ...

catalyst
for
synthetic rubber A synthetic rubber is any artificial elastomer. They are polymers synthesized from petroleum byproducts. About 32-million metric tons of rubbers are produced annually in the United States, and of that amount two thirds are synthetic. Global revenue ...
manufacturing. Also combined with
silica sand Sand casting, also known as sand molded casting, is a metal casting In metalworking and jewelry making, casting is a process in which a liquid metal is delivered into a mold (usually by a crucible) that contains a negative impression (i.e. ...

silica sand
to produce
potassium silicate Potassium silicate is the name for a family of inorganic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their compo ...
, sometimes known as waterglass, for use in
paints Paint is any pigmented liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible In fluid mechanics Fluid mechanics is the branch of physics concerned with the mechanics Mechanics (Ancient Greek, Greek: ) is the area of physics concerned wi ...

paints
and
arc welding Arc welding is a welding Welding is a process that joins materials, usually s or s, by using high to melt the parts together and allowing them to cool, causing . Welding is distinct from lower temperature metal-joining techniques such as ...
electrodes. These non-fertilizer uses have accounted for about 15% of annual potash consumption in the United States.


Substitutes

No substitutes exist for potassium as an essential plant nutrient and as an essential nutritional requirement for animals and humans.
Manure Manure is organic matter Organic matter, organic material, or natural organic matter refers to the large source of Carbon compounds, carbon-based compounds found within natural and engineered, terrestrial, and aquatic environments. It is m ...

Manure
and
glauconite Glauconite is an iron Iron () is a with Fe (from la, ) and 26. It is a that belongs to the and of the . It is, on , right in front of (32.1% and 30.1%, respectively), forming much of Earth's and . It is the fourth most common . In ...
(greensand) are low-potassium-content sources that can be profitably transported only short distances to crop fields.


See also

*
Saltpeter Niter, or nitre (chiefly British), is the mineral form of potassium nitrate, KNO3, also known as saltpeter or saltpetre. Historically, the term ''niter'' was not well differentiated from natron, both of which have been very vaguely defined bu ...

Saltpeter
*
Saltwater soap Saltwater soap, also called sailors' soap, is a potassium Potassium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the ...
*
Sodium hydroxide Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye A lye is a metal hydroxide traditionally obtained by leaching wood ashes, or a strong alkali In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chem ...

Sodium hydroxide
*
Bone ash Bone ash is a white material produced by the calcination Calcination refers to heating a solid to high temperatures in absence of air or oxygen, generally for the purpose of removing impurities or volatile substances. However, calcination is also ...
* List of mines in Saskatchewan


References

*


Further reading

* Seaver, Frederick J. (1918
"Historical Sketches of Franklin County And Its Several Towns"
J.B Lyons Company, Albany, NY, Section "Making Potash" pp. 27–29


External links



* ttp://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&S1=1790$.PD.&OS=ISD/$/$/1790&RS=ISD/1790$$ The First U.S. Patent issued for a method of potash production
World Agriculture and Fertilizer Markets Map
{{Authority control Agricultural chemicals Fertilizers Potassium
SaltsIn chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo ...
Industrial minerals Types of ash