Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Potassium Hydroxide Safety
Name: Erika Brown
Status: student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000


Question:
I am a photography student and I am working on a project where I am making film developer out of coffee. The recipe for the developer asks for Potassium Hydroxide. It requires me to mix this with baking soda, coffee, and water. I am quite concerned about mixing it with water after researching it because of all of the warnings say not to mix the two together. My question to you is how safe is it to mix Potassium Hydroxide with water?

I really have no idea what exactly can happen.

Thank you very much.


Replies:
Solid potassium hydroxide, like solid sodium hydroxide, releases a large amount of heat when dissolved in water. To prevent overheating, add the potassium hydroxide TO THE WATER SLOWLY, not the other way around. The heat capacity of the water will help absorb the heat. If you want added precaution place the vessel in an ice bath.

Your concern for safety is commendable. Also wear eye shields and protective gloves. Even disposable latex or polyethylene gloves are adequate.

Vince Calder



Click here to return to the Chemistry Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory