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The latter two species, especially the superoxide, are rare and are formed only in reaction of very electropositive metals (Na, K, Rb, Cs, etc.) with oxygen; these species contain oxygen-oxygen bonds.

All potassium-oxygen binary compounds are known to react with water violently, forming potassium hydroxide.

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Potassium is a chemical element with symbol K (from Neo-Latin kalium) and atomic number 19.

It was first isolated from potash, the ashes of plants, from which its name derives.

The symbol "K" stems from kali, itself from the root word alkali, which in turn comes from Arabic: ‎ al-qalyah "plant ashes." In 1797, the German chemist Martin Klaproth discovered "potash" in the minerals leucite and lepidolite, and realized that "potash" was not a product of plant growth but actually contained a new element, which he proposed to call kali.

Potassium is the second least dense metal after lithium.

Potassium ions are necessary for the function of all living cells.

The transfer of potassium ions through nerve cell membranes is necessary for normal nerve transmission; potassium deficiency and excess can each result in numerous abnormalities, including an abnormal heart rhythm and various electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities.

Hydrogen reacts again with atmospheric oxygen, producing water, which reacts with the remaining potassium.

This reaction requires only traces of water; because of this, potassium and the liquid sodium-potassium (Na K) alloy are potent desiccants that can be used to dry solvents prior to distillation.

With oxygen it forms potassium peroxide, and with water potassium forms potassium hydroxide.

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