Potassium Sulfide

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Potassium sulfide is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula K2S. It is not usually found in nature as the anhydrous solid, but rather as a mixture with potassium hydrosulfide, the two compounds being produced by treating excess hydrogen sulfide with potassium hydroxide (K2SO3H2O).

Potassium and sulfur react to form this yellow-red to red crystalline compound, which has a characteristic odor of rotten eggs. It is soluble in water, ethanol and glycerol, but insoluble in ether. It is moderately soluble in acids and is deliquescent. When heated to decomposition it emits toxic fumes. Potassium sulfide is used as a reagent in analytical chemistry and as a depilatory and medicine. It is also used for staining bronze and as a photographic toner.

Health Effects/Security Hazards:

When inhaled it produces a highly toxic gas, hydrogen sulfide. It can also cause burns to the skin and eyes. It is also corrosive and a fire risk. It is a strong reducing agent and it reacts with copper ions to form copper sulfide, with cobalt ions to produce cobalt iii sulfide and with silver nitrate to produce aqueous potassium nitrate and silver sulfide precipitate. Pretreatment with sodium nitrate significantly increases the acute IP LD50 of potassium sulfide in mice, and is recommended as an antidote in cases of suspected exposure to potassium sulfide. For additional information about this and other dangerous chemicals, see the CAMEO Chemicals Database Record.