Potash -

Is, correctly speaking, Potassium Hydroxide, but in general usage the title is applied also to various salts of potassium. The best known commercial types are (crude) Carbonate of Potash; Hydrate of Potash (Potassium Hydroxide) or "caustic Potash," and Muriate of Potash. It has many industrial uses, prominent among them being employment in the manufacture of soft soap and several special forms of glass, such as "Bohemian," "Flint," etc. Caustic Potash is more alkaline than the Carbonate because of the extraction of the carbon-dioxide content.

Potassium is present almost everywhere - in the water of the ocean, in soil, rocks, trees, plants, etc. The principal present commercial sources are the land deposits in Germany and other parts of Europe, because of the ease with which it can there be separated from the other associated minerals. It was formerly obtained largely from the ashes of timber, plants, etc., and is still so extracted in sections where wood is the principal fuel or where there is a large amount of waste wood.

The word "Potash" describes the old method of manufacture - the wood ashes were first dissolved in water and then the water was poured off the residue and evaporated by steaming in large iron pots. The "pot-ash" remained at the bottom of the pot in a semi-granular condition, as the result of frequent stirring toward the end. The name remains, but the product is now generally obtained by evaporation in special furnaces.

Pearl-ash is a partly purified form of Carbonate of Potash.

Arround Potash in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

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