Potassium

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Potassium is a chemical element with symbol K (derived from Neo-Latin, kalium) and atomic number 19. It was first isolated from potash, the ashes of plants, from which its name is derived. In the Periodic table, potassium is one of seven elements in column (group) (alkali metals): they all have a single valence electron in their outer electron shell, which they readily give up to create an atom with a positive charge - a cation, and combine with anions to form salts. Potassium in nature occurs only in ionic salts. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and reacts vigorously with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite hydrogen emitted in the reaction and burning with a lilac flame. It is found dissolved in sea water (which is 0.04% potassium by weight), and is part of many minerals. Naturally occurring potassium is composed of three isotopes, one of which, 40K, is radioactive. Traces of 40K are found in all potassium, and it is the most common radioisotope in the human body.

See also