What is Potash?
There are some facts you must know about potash. A lot of natural mineral resources that are very beneficial for human usage have been unleashed in the past, and many more are yet to be known. One of such beneficial natural resources is potash, a type of salt from the lake (sodium carbonate) that is very dry and hydrated.
This kind of lake salts usually forms and hail out from the soil during the wet season but tends to solidify and get dried during the hot and dry season. Potash (potassium carbonate) is often covered by shallow water about less than 2 ft deep. Studies showed that potash salt is the second widely used salt in Africa. However, potash has a very low amount of potassium when compared to sodium.
There are several types of potash viz; sulfate of potash, arcanite, potassium sulfate (K2SO4), arcanum, vitriolic tartar, Glaser’s salt, and potash of sulfur. Some of the notable minerals found in this salt are; Leonite, Polyhalite, Glaserite, Schönite, Kainite, and potassium sulfate, which can be separated independently from the minerals.
However, potash is well known around the world for a lot of reasons. It is a great ingredient in fertilizers. It boosts plant resistance to many diseases and raises their water retention. Other benefits are glass making, bleaching textiles, soap making, meat, and fish preservatives, etc.
Natron, a compound house for potash, hydrated carbonate of sodium or sesqui-carbonate, is a mixture of different compounds with sodium constituting about 30 % and other minerals like iron, potassium, and zinc in varying levels.
It is also often added to legumes and meat during cooking for quick softening, and it is said to raise the viscosity of some African soups. Also, when supplemented with these indigenous soups, it can emulsify both water and oil.
Potash has other benefits outside of the culinary world. For instance, it is used to sanitize and to disinfect as it has brilliant fungicide properties and may be utilized to prevent mildew. It is also helpful in cleaning kitchens, bathrooms, sinks, and tiles.
Potassium bicarbonate is used as a fire quenching agent and may be found in some dry fire extinguishers. It is used in Egypt for mummification and embalming of corpses.
While it may appear to be an almost undiscardable supplement to food, professionals have pointed out its deadly effects on the human body and have advised for a stop to its culinary use.
Most people add the substance to all their meals but never consider its dangerous effect on their bodies. Potash cannot be broken down by the human body, so when you ingest it, it remains in your body system, and this can cause health problems.
Most necessary, findings from different studies proved that the substance can be used to raise the uterine’s ability to contract, and this has been guessed to have the ability to trigger abortions in the early pregnancy stages if used in high concentration.
Component of Potash
Potassium (K) belongs to the alkali metal group and is abundant in nature. It is always present in combined forms with some other minerals in the earth’s crust, basically where there are many depositions of heavy soils and clay minerals.
Potash (potassium carbonate) is an impure combination of both potassium carbonate and potassium salt. Rock deposits containing potash were formed when ancient inland water bodies evaporated some decades ago. The term “potash” has been often used to describe the fertilizer nature of potassium derived from rocks by separating other minerals and the salt.
Some years back, the basic source of potash was the ash from indigenous hardwood trees. The main chemical compound, “potassium carbonate,” was discovered by leaching the ashes in iron pots to dissolve out its soluble components. Evaporation of this solution through percolation yielded the production of potash. Potash was used to making glass, fertilizer, soap, gunpowder, and to dye fabrics. Until the 1860s, the main sources of potash were the hardwood trees and a few other plants. The United States dominance in potash production began to fall when more natural deposits of potash were discovered in Germany (dry lake alkali beds). Many other countries, such as Russia and France, were forced to develop their natural sources since the outbreak of World War I. More sources were discovered in Utah, Michigan, and New Mexico.
Source of Potash (Potassium carbonate)
It is derived from within the earth’s crust in large quantities around the globe. It is formed when some rock deposits with potash from old inland seas evaporate millions of years ago. However, native production involves burning wood or leave to ash. The ash is deposited in hot water, and the resulting solution is filtered out. The filtrate is further evaporated to dryness in a large basin, and the resulting solidified substance is called potash from where the name “potash” is derived from. Educating, isn’t it?
You Need Potash in Your Diet
Potassium is a vital element of the human diet as it is involved in both body functions and cellular metabolism. It is really important for body growth and maintenance of muscles, tissues, and organs. The average required intake of potassium for an adult is about 4.7 g per day, but the intake amount can change depending on your medical conditions. Some other good sources of potassium include juices of citrus fruits, chicken, milk, red meat, soy products, fish, root vegetables, nuts, and bananas.
Health Benefit of Potash (Potassium carbonate)
Potash is seen in almost every ration we eat. This is because it is a vital element in fertilizers. There is always a high content of potash in plants. Animals that eat these plants also get it. We, humans, consume both animals that eat these plants and the plants themselves or even preserve with some potash and get some shot already. This compound has some benefits to humans.
It raises cellular metabolism in human bodies and aid general functioning. It also contributes a lot to the growth and maintenance of our body muscles, tissues, and organs. It is proved that it reduces protein production and metabolism as well.
Lastly, it is vital to electrical heart conduction. To achieve the highlighted benefits above, a daily intake of 478g/day is required. Exceeding this value is not encouraged.
It was prescribed some decades back as a cure for asthma, sore throat, and arthritis. Yet, no scientific results to prove these claims yet. Another theory yet to be confirmed is its ability to reduce male libido.
Acts as a Preservative
Don’t go far looking for preservatives for your cookies while some potash is dormant in your cupboard. Potash solution can be effectively used as a preservative to make our stored food stay for a longer period. Fungicidal Properties
Potash is packed with fungicidal properties; and thus is capable of being used for sanitizing purposes and avoiding mildews and molds.
Some studies showed that potash can induce abortion in the early stages of pregnancies when taking in high concentration due to its capability to induce uterine contractility. Pregnant women are wisely advised to back off from taking any form of potash concoction.
Some ethnomedical professionals often use potash for preparing herbal concoctions and medicines.
Some research studies also reveal that potash may act as an expectorant, thus capable of treating cough perfectly.
Some findings reveal that potassium carbonate can act brilliantly as an antacid, and therefore can be used to face flatulence and constipation.
Dangers of Taking Potash
It was discovered that an excessive increase in respiratory disease has been a serious concern for potash miners. In 1960, domestic animals given feed with fish meal preserved with potash all died of liver failure. The researchers were smart to have traced the culprit to nitrosamines. The dangerous chemical is formed in a chemical reaction; when sodium nitrate in fertilizers reacts with natural amines, those fish. Nitroamines are popular cancer-causing agents. This spurs the development of much better preservative means that can stop this reaction.
Because of the number of impurities in local potash, sodium content is often a cause for concern. Sodium content in potassium carbonate is capable of raising blood pressure. According to a researcher, another damage the high sodium level can cause is an injury to the liver and kidney.
This product is very dangerous for pregnant mothers as it may cause uterine contractions. This can further induce premature delivery or abortion.