Potassium Permanganate: A Medical Blog Post Written By A Certified Physician And An Award Winning Journalist About How Do I Use Potassium Permanganate?
What is Potassium Permanganate?
Potassium permanganate (KP) is a chemical compound used to kill bacteria and fungi on surfaces such as counter tops, sinks, floors, counters, kitchen utensils and other places where they grow.
It is not just used to kill germs, but also helps prevent rusting or rotting of metal objects. It is commonly found in household cleaners and laundry detergents.
The main ingredient in potassium permanganate is potassium nitrate which is obtained from saltpeter. Saltpeter comes from the Krakatoa volcano located near Bali, Indonesia. The volcanic rock contains small amounts of potassium nitrate which when heated up produces a white powder called saltpeter.
How Does Potassium Permanganate Work?
When potassium permanganate is applied to a surface, it reacts with the oxidized metal causing it to turn into a solid. This reaction occurs very quickly so that within seconds the metal will have turned completely black. If left on a surface for too long, however, the material may become brittle and break apart due to its own weight.
In order to avoid this problem, the object must be kept from getting too much exposure to the substance. Once it has turned black and solid, it is safe to handle.
What Does It Treat?
The most common medical use for potassium permanganate is sterilizing wounds. It can also be used to kill pain due to its caustic nature. There are other medical uses for this product, but these are the most common.
How Do I Use It?
Potassium permanganate is available in a lot of different forms such as tablets, capsules, liquid, powder, and pads. The first step in using this product is to identify which type you have as each one has different usage instructions.
If you have the liquid, then you should be very careful when opening the bottle due to its extreme oxidizing nature. If it comes into contact with your skin it could cause a deep wound. You should also wear protective eye gear when dealing with this substance so that it does not get into your eyes.
If you wear contacts, it is recommended that you take them out before handling the liquid.
If you have the tablets or capsules, you can either swallow them or open up the capsule (if that’s what form you have) and mix the powder with water or food. In order to avoid irritating your throat or stomach, you should take these on a full stomach. If you have any questions about this, you should consult with your doctor before taking the product.
If you have the pads, you should first read the instructions on the package. They may tell you to do something a little different than what is listed here. Generally though you would rip open the package and use them like a normal cleaning pad.
You would then wipe off the counter or other surface and then wash your hands immediately after handling it.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Potassium permanganate is very powerful and because of this it can irritate the skin, eyes, and certain mucous membranes. It should never be swallowed due to the risk of death via internal chemical burning.
If you happen to get some on your skin, you should immediately wash it off with cold water. If some gets in your eye, then you should immediately flush your eye with cool water and then get a doctor’s attention. If you swallow it, then you should get to an emergency room immediately.
If you have a cut or other wound on your skin, then it could turn the surrounding area black (this is a good thing as it will help prevent infection and speed healing). It may also cause your body to have a slight odor which can be eliminated with chlorophyll tablets. These side effects are only minor if they happen at all.
Potassium permanganate is not known to be addictive, but long-term use may cause your skin to turn green.
Sources & references used in this article:
The use of potassium permanganate as an electron-dense stain for sections of tissue embedded in epoxy resin by AM Lawn – The Journal of biophysical and biochemical cytology, 1960 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Green oxidations. The use of potassium permanganate supported on manganese dioxide by A Shaabani, P Mirzaei, S Naderi, DG Lee – Tetrahedron, 2004 – Elsevier
Oxidation of hydrocarbons. 8. Use of dimethyl polyethylene glycol as a phase transfer agent for the oxidation of alkenes by potassium permanganate by DG Lee, VS Chang – The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 1978 – ACS Publications
The thermal decomposition of potassium permanganate by EG Prout, FC Tompkins – Transactions of the Faraday Society, 1944 – pubs.rsc.org
Analytical applications of acidic potassium permanganate as a chemiluminescence reagent by BJ Hindson, NW Barnett – Analytica chimica acta, 2001 – Elsevier
Potassium permanganate reaction in amyloidosis. A histologic method to assist in differentiating forms of this disease by JR Wright, E Calkins… – Laboratory Investigation, 1977 – jhu.pure.elsevier.com
Fast and sensitive detection of protein and DNA bands by treatment with potassium permanganate by W Ansorge – Journal of biochemical and biophysical methods, 1985 – Elsevier
Use of potassium permanganate in water treatment by AK Cherry – Journal‐American Water Works Association, 1962 – Wiley Online Library
Potassium permanganate oxidation of organic compounds by A Shaabani, F Tavasoli‐Rad, DG Lee – Synthetic communications, 2005 – Taylor & Francis