Potash refers to potassium compounds and potassium-bearing materials, the most common being potassium chloride (KCl). The term “potash” comes from the practice of extracting potassium fertilizer (K2CO3) by leaching wood ashes and evaporating the solution in large iron pots.
Potash, or carbonate of potash, is the common term used for the fertilizer forms of the element potassium (K).
Potassium occurs abundantly in nature, being the 7th most common element in the earth’s crust. Some clay minerals which are associated with heavy soils are rich sources of potassium.
Potash bearing rock deposits are derived from the minerals in ancient seas that dried up millions of years ago. Fertilizer potash is mostly derived from these potash rocks. It requires only separation from the salt and other minerals.
Functions of Potash
For adequate nutrient supply of potassium, soil additives are required, which commonly contain more potassium than any other nutrient, including nitrogen.
For an adult human being, approximately 2 grams of potassium (K) are required per day, even though a typical person will take in 2.8-4.5 grams/day. The rich sources of this nutrient in human diet are milk, fruit juice, root vegetables and bananas.
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the three most essential nutrients that a plant needs to grow. Potash plays an important role in helping plants to absorb potassium required to thrive.
There are no known substitutes for potash.
Uses of Potash
Potash has three main uses: fertilizer, livestock feed supplements and industrial processes. 95% of world’s potash is used in fertilizers. Potash is a key ingredient in fertilizers that enhance water retention of plants, increases crop yields and plants’ disease resistance. In feed supplements, the key function of potash is to contribute to animal growth and milk production. Potash is also used to produce glass, ceramics, soaps etc.