Potassium Silicate is the term used for a group of inorganic compounds. Inorganic compounds, in case you’re wondering, are bonds that don’t use hydrogen-carbon bonds to create the compound.
Clever chemists melt potassium carbonate and pure silica sand together, then super cool it to form potassium silicate. Common silicates, like sodium silicate, take the form of white rocky powder or solutions that have no colour at all.
We’re not here to bore you with chemistry though – we’re here to tell you what these compounds are used for.
This is the prime industry where potassium silicates are used.
Plants require potassium and silicon to grow. By dissolving silicates in water, the solution can be added to fertilizers. The main benefit of that is to make the soil more alkaline.
In addition to that, it has the following benefits as well:
- Improved photosynthesis of the plant
- Elements like sodium, manganese, and aluminium’s negative effects are eradicated with potassium silicate
Silicon is a valuable element in plant growth. Plants that have soluble silicon added are more resilient to insects as the cell walls of the plant are thicker, which means less insecticide use and greater crop yield.
Plants also show greater resistance to fungi when potassium silicates are used in the soil.
The use of potassium and sodium silicate in the construction industry is widespread.
Mortars that are used in high acidic conditions should have potassium silicate added. The ability of sodium silicate enriched mortar to withstand acid is much greater than that of sodium-based mortars, which will have limited life.
Sodium silicate-rich mortars don’t “stick” to trowels and add more body when laying bricks. This means that you have more time to place bricks just the way you want them before the mortar starts setting.
It also adds hardness (and longevity) to concrete. Sodium silicates in concrete make the concrete less absorbent to chemicals and liquids by closing the pores as it sets. This property also makes it impervious to dust build-up.
When wood is being used in construction, you can give the wood a layer or two of a sodium silicate solution. This makes the wood flame retardant and can easily be applied with a brush.
Potassium silicate has been used since the 19th-century and is still widely used today.
We haven’t even scratched the surface in this article of the uses for this chemical compound. The benefits it adds to industries are innumerable.
It adds longevity to mortars and concrete, can fireproof wood, and is even used in welding rods.
Just a word of warning, though. The pH level of potassium silicate is very high. Use your gloves, safety goggles, and an apron when handling it.