What is KOH?
KOH refers to Potassium Hydroxide, which is also called lye or caustic potash. Together with sodium hydroxide, it creates a strong base that releases OH- in the solution. KOH can be corrosive and in the presence of acids, can also be explosive.
Potassium hydroxide may come in the form of white or yellowish lumps, pellets, or rods. These can be dissolved in water and can produce substantial amounts of heat during an exothermic reaction. Other solvents may include ethanol and methanol.
This compound can be created by adding potassium carbonate to calcium hydroxide (lime), in order to generate a calcium carbonate precipitate and KOH in solution. Once the precipitate is eliminated, the solution is then boiled in order to obtain potassium hydroxide. However, this process was changed in the late 19th century. The more advanced method which was employed until now involves the electrolysis of potassium chloride, in order to separate potassium hydroxide, hydrogen, and chlorine.
Potassium hydroxide has several applications in various industries. One of the main application is the production of potassium soaps, which are made by the saponification with potassium hydroxide. This type of soap is softer compared to the traditional ones which are made with sodium hydroxide. Furthermore, this compound is also used in creating liquid soaps.
Another application of potassium hydroxide is in the production of biodiesel through the transesterification of triglycerides which are in oil. The by-product of this process, which is called glycerin, can also be utilized as a food supplement for cattle when these by-products are detoxified. Moreover, potassium hydroxide is also preferred over sodium hydroxide when it comes to producing nickel-iron batteries.
Other applications of potassium hydroxide include chemical cremation, production of cleaning products, preservatives for insects, manicure products, shaving products, desiccant in the laboratory, removal of hair from animal hides, as well as for the identification of mushrooms.