Potassium permanganate: characteristics and uses

In nature, we can find a large number of substances and elements that interact with each other constantly. This interaction often involves some sort of chemical reaction, something that happens even though we can’t see it with the naked eye.

One of the best known and most common chemical reactions in nature is oxidation, which occurs when an element begins to lose electrons due to its interaction with oxygen. This reaction is linked to processes such as aging and cellular deterioration, but it is nevertheless very relevant and very useful in different areas of our life or our society. And we often even try to generate compounds with strong oxidizing power. An example of this is potassium permanganate, Which we will talk about throughout this article.

    What is potassium permanganate?

    It is known as potassium permanganate an a chemical compound made up of a combination of potassium ions and permanganate, With a certain proportion and structure (its formula is KMnO4, which is equivalent to a combination of one atom of potassium, another of manganese and four of oxygen).

    Dark purple or purple (mainly due to permanganate, although it dissolves in increasing amounts of solvent, it can change color and even lose it completely), it is a compound that does not leave carbon, so it would be classified as inorganic.

    Also known as Condy crystals or chameleon mineralsPotassium permanganate is a very popular product in various fields and benefits from multiple possible applications, in particular because it is a very powerful oxidant. It can be found on the market in both liquid and solid form and easily dissolves in water and alcohol or acetone (among others). It is a product which is not in itself flammable but extremely corrosive, in addition to which it can generate violent or even explosive incendiary reactions if it is mixed with certain substances.

    Some of its main applications

    This compound is highly valued in various fields and activities, having due to its high oxidizing power a number of properties which make it a very useful product. Among the functions and applications for which potassium permanganate is used, we can highlight the following.

    Water purification

    A d1. and the most interesting and common applications of potassium permanganate are the purification of large bodies of water, helping to eliminate bacteria and promote the improvement of water quality. It is used for example in water pipes and drains, and even in drinking water.

    2. Preservation and disinfection of certain foods

    Another use of potassium permanganate is related to the food sector. More precisely, is used to prevent oxidation of fruits such as bananas and help preserve them even when not refrigerated. In some areas, it is also used diluted to wash certain foods, due to its antiseptic action.

    3. Industrial use

    Potassium permanganate also has applications in industry or chemical research, allowing the transformation of matter by oxidation processes so as to make it possible to obtain different types of compounds and reagents.

    4. Photography

    Although this is now a non-existent application, in the past potassium permanganate was used with other components in photography. allowing the chemical reaction resulting from its mixing to use the first flashes.

    Medical and veterinary uses

    Potassium permanganate, in addition to previous applications, as well it has a number of relevant clinical applications. However, as the high oxidizing power of this compound gives it a high toxic and abrasive potential, it can only be used at the medical or veterinary level when it is completely dissolved in large quantities (at least in proportion). amount of potassium permanganate) in water or other substance. In fact, in general, the one for medical use is in a ratio of 1/10000.

    The indications for this type of solution are generally limited to topical use, being a powerful antiseptic in different skin problems (such as dermatitis), certain ulcers or fungal infections of the skin (it is common in the feet). It is also used to relieve calluses, and sometimes even to treat hemorrhoids (in which case you should always consult a healthcare professional first). It is sometimes also used as a mouthwash.

    It also has astringent properties (That is, it causes tissue to shrink and dry out), so it is sometimes used on superficial wounds or skin disorders that cause suppuration. It can sometimes be used to treat poisoning or poisoning, being used in certain gastric washings caused for example by snakebites or white phosphorus. In addition to that, it is used to treat hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating of different parts of the body.

    It also has veterinary uses, generally to treat skin and / or fungal infections in animals such as fish.

      Risks, side effects and contraindications

      Potassium permanganate is useful in different areas, but the truth is that it is a very dangerous compound if not used with the caution it deserves. Not in vain, it is as we said very oxidizing and even corrosive, so it should not be handled with bare skin.

      Its danger increases considerably if ingested, and can be very toxic and can even lead to death if consumed in sufficient quantities. In this sense, it can cause serious breathing problems and even internal bleeding. Its vapors can also cause irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract.

      As for the diluted version for medical use, 1 accidental ingestion may cause nausea and bowel problems, liver or kidney problems, cardiovascular depression or edema. Also, in its topical use, it can cause irritation, burns, and even ulcers. It should be noted that it should not be applied during pregnancy or breastfeeding, unless a doctor recommends it, nor people with kidney disease or with extensive problems or injuries or ulcers. .

      bibliographical references

      • Central University Hospital of Asturias. (2003), Medication: Potassium permanganate Sol. Subject to 1/10000. Oviedo, Spain.

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