Potassium sulfide is the inorganic compound with the formula K2S. The colourless solid is rarely encountered, because it reacts readily with water, a reaction that affords potassium hydrosulfide (KSH) and potassium hydroxide (KOH). Most commonly, the term potassium sulfide refers loosely to this mixture, not the anhydrous solid.


It adopts "antifluorite structure," which means that the small K+ ions occupy the tetrahedral (F) sites in fluorite, and the larger S2− centers occupy the eight-coordinate sites. Li2S, Na2S, and Rb2S crystallize similarly.[1]

Synthesis and reactions

It can be produced by heating K2SO4 with carbon (coke):

K2SO4 + 4 C → K2S + 4 CO

In the laboratory, pure K2S may be prepared by the reaction of potassium and sulfur in anhydrous ammonia. [2]

Sulfide is highly basic, consequently K2S completely and irreversibly hydrolyzes in water according to the following equation:

K2S + H2O → KOH + KSH

For many purposes, this reaction is inconsequential since the mixture of SH and OH behaves as a source of S2−. Other alkali metal sulfides behave similarly.[1]

Use in fireworks

Potassium sulfides are formed when black powder is burned and are important intermediates in many pyrotechnic effects, such as senko hanabi and some glitter formulations.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b Holleman, A. F.; Wiberg, E. "Inorganic Chemistry" Academic Press: San Diego, 2001. ISBN 0-12-352651-5.
  2. ^ Handbook of Preparative Inorganic Chemistry, 2nd Ed. Edited by G. Brauer, Academic Press, 1963, NY. Vol. 1. p. 360.
  3. ^ Shimizu, Takeo. "Fireworks: the Art, Science, and Technique." Pyrotechnica Publications: Austin, 1981. ISBN 0-929388-05-4.