Difference Between Potassium & Potassium Citrate

by Loise Kinyanjui

There are many salts that are produced when potassium reacts with metals or other compound. These salts include potassium chloride, potassium iodide and potassium citrate. Although it is obtained from potassium, potassium citrate differs from it in various ways.


Potassium and potassium citrate are formed by two different processes. Potassium is an alkali metal and is an ionic salt in nature. It is commonly found dissolved in seawater and can be extracted from other minerals. It looks silvery-white. Potassium citrate, on the other hand, is a salt formed when potassium reacts with citric acid. It is usually white in color and has a saline taste.

Reaction With Water and Air

Potassium reacts exothermically with water. It reacts violently and it even displaces hydrogen. The reaction leads to the production of hydrogen gas and potassium hydroxide. Potassium is also very reactive with oxygen. If left exposed to air, potassium will react with oxygen to form potassium oxide. Potassium citrate does not react with either water or oxygen under normal conditions. It does not need to be stored away from air, as there is no reaction between the two.


Potassium has a number of uses, both industrial and domestic. It reacts with water and other chemicals to form potassium hydroxide, a strong base used to neutralize acids. One of its compounds, potassium chromate, is used in many industries, especially in the manufacture of inks, fireworks, flypaper. It is also used by plants to control water loss in the stomata. Potassium is also a very important mineral in our bodies. It controls acidity levels, osmotic balance, blood pressure and some muscle activities. Potassium citrate is used to treat a number of diseases such as urinary pain. When ingested, potassium citrate is absorbed rapidly. It is then excreted as carbon in the urine. This eases the pain of urinating for patients who have that condition. It is also prescribed to prevent kidney stones from forming.


Potassium citrate is commonly found in chemists and pharmaceuticals. It is usually found as a pill. Potassium is used in most industries, and in various compounds such as potassium chloride or potassium iodide. It also is in some medications.

About the Author

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Loise Kinyanjui has been writing since 2009. She works as a features writer with Kitabu Publishers and has contributed news articles to various magazines and newspapers including "Weekly Citizen" and the "Kenyan Times." Kinyanjui holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature from Baraton University.

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