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What is Potassium Chromium?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2016
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Potassium chromium is a chemical compound most often used as an ingredient in other compounds. Though this compound can exist on its own, it is most often combined with sulfur or oxygen to make potassium chromium sulphate or potassium chromium oxide. These chemicals can be used in chemistry and photography labs.

One common compound made from potassium chromium is potassium dichromate. This chemical is made up of potassium, chromium and oxygen. Over the course of transforming potassium chromium into potassium dichromate, the compound takes on a number of different forms. It becomes potassium chromate, which is a yellow chemical, and then becomes potassium dichromate which has a strong green hue.

When it is first formed, potassium dichromate is an unstable solution tainted with hydrogen peroxide. It can be turned into a stable compound by boiling off the hydrogen peroxide. Once it is in its stable form, it can bind with iron ions and remove them from a liquid. Unlike another similar compound, potassium dichromate is effective when there are chloride ions in the solution.

Potassium chromium can also be combined with sulfur and oxygen. When this is done, the resulting chemical forms violet-red crystals that can be used for a number of purposes. They can be used to dye glazes used in ceramics or textiles. Additionally, they can be used in the development of photographs, adding a reddish hue either to fix a color problem or to create a color-shift effect.

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There are a number of dangers to working with potassium chromium based chemicals. They are toxic when touched, inhaled or ingested. The symptoms of occasional skin contact with the chemical are usually mild and can appear as pain, itching or redness. Repeated exposure can create more severe reactions, including the development of lesions. The effects are worse in the eyes and the mucus membranes.

Inhalation of this chemical can also cause irritation. Exposure to potassium chromium can cause coughing and shortness of breath as well as fever and headache. Consuming this chemical can be lethal and accidental exposure should be reported immediately to a doctor. Proper first aid should be administered immediately following exposure.

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