You may have learnt from your Science lessons that the alkali metals are very reactive, but did you know how useful and how important they are?
About 2.4% of the mass of the Earth’s crust is potassium. Potassium nitrate, otherwise known as saltpeter has been used since the Middle Ages. It was used to preserve food, and is found in gunpowder. Potash, containing potassium, is a fertilizer. Some forms of potassium can even be found in deodorants to inhibit the growth of bacteria. In addition to all these uses, potassium and sodium are essential in the body. They are both electrolytes, and conduct electrical signals in the body as part of our nervous response.
Thousands of years ago, when humans roamed the earth gathering and hunting, potassium was abundant in the diet. We used to consume around 16 times more potassium then sodium. Because of changes in our lifestyles and diets, we now consume twice as much sodium as potassium. Potassium rich diets help to prevent high blood pressure, and in turn this can reduce the chances of strokes.
If you want to increase the levels of potassium in your body – grab yourself a banana or some spinach!!
GCSE Science students – you need to be able to describe and explain the properties of alkali metals. Our new guide, “How to work with Alkali Metals” can help. Included, as always are questions to try, and answers to check your understanding.
To see the guide, click on the picture below.
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