|Jmol-3D images||Image 1|
|Molar mass||158.034 g/mol|
magenta–rose in solution
|Melting point||240 °C; 464 °F; 513 K (decomp.)|
|Solubility in water||63.8 g/L (20 °C)
250 g/L (65 °C)
|Solubility||decomposes in alcohol and organic solvents|
|Refractive index (nD)||1.59|
heat capacity C
|119.2 J/mol K|
|171.7 J K−1 mol−1|
|Gibbs free energy ΔG||-713.8 kJ/mol|
|Std enthalpy of
|EU classification||Oxidant (O)
Dangerous for the environment (N)
|R-phrases||R8, R22, R50/53|
|S-phrases||(S2), S60, S61|
|Other anions||Potassium manganite
|Other cations||Sodium permanganate
|Related compounds||Manganese heptoxide|
| (what is: / ?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
Potassium permanganate is an inorganic chemical compound with the formula KMnO4. It is a salt consisting of K+ and MnO−
4 ions. Formerly known as permanganate of potash or Condy's crystals, it is a strong oxidizing agent. It dissolves in water to give intensely pink or purple solutions, the evaporation of which leaves prismatic purplish-black glistening crystals. In 2000, worldwide production was estimated at 30,000 tonnes. In this compound, manganese is in the +7 oxidation state.
In 1659, Johann Rudolf Glauber fused a mixture of the mineral pyrolusite (Manganese Dioxide: MnO2) and potassium carbonate to obtain a material that, when dissolved in water, gave a green solution (potassium manganate) which slowly shifted to violet and then finally red. This report represents the first description of the production of potassium permanganate. Just under two hundred years later London chemist Henry Bollmann Condy had an interest in disinfectants, and marketed several products including ozonised water. He found that fusing pyrolusite with NaOH and dissolving it in water produced a solution with disinfectant properties. He patented this solution, and marketed it as Condy's Fluid. Although effective, the solution was not very stable. This was overcome by using KOH rather than NaOH. This was more stable, and had the advantage of easy conversion to the equally effective potassium permanganate crystals. This crystalline material was known as Condy's crystals or Condy's powder. Potassium permanganate was comparatively easy to manufacture so Condy was subsequently forced to spend considerable time in litigation in order to stop competitors from marketing products similar to Condy's Fluid or Condy's Crystals.
Early photographers used it as a component of flash powder. It is now replaced with other oxidizers, due to the instability of permanganate mixtures. Aqueous solutions of KMnO4 have been used together with T-Stoff (i.e. 80% hydrogen peroxide) as propellant for the rocket plane Messerschmitt Me 163. In this application, it was known as Z-Stoff. This combination of propellants is sometimes still used in torpedoes.
Structure and preparation
Potassium permanganate is produced industrially from manganese dioxide, which also occurs as the mineral pyrolusite. The MnO2 is fused with potassium hydroxide and heated in air or with a source of oxygen, like potassium nitrate or chlorate. This process gives potassium manganate, which upon electrolytic oxidation in alkaline media, or by boiling the manganate solution in the presence of carbon dioxide until all the green color is discharged, gives potassium permanganate.
- 2 MnO2 + 4 KOH + O2 → 2 K2MnO4 + 2 H2O
- 2 MnO42– + Cl2 → 2 MnO4– + 2 Cl–
- 3 K2MnO4 + 2 CO2 → 2 KMnO4 + 2 K2CO3 + MnO2
In which the potassium permanganate is separated by filtering the insoluble manganese dioxide, evaporating the solution to 1/3 and recrystallizing it.
Permanganate salts can also be generated by treating a solution of Mn2+ ions with strong oxidants such as lead dioxide (PbO2), or sodium bismuthate (NaBiO3). Tests for the presence of manganese exploit the vivid violet color of permanganate produced by these reagents.
KMnO4 forms orthorhombic crystals with constants: a = 910.5 pm, b = 572.0 pm, c = 742.5 pm. The overall motif is similar to that for barium sulfate, with which it forms solid solutions. In the solid (as in solution), each MnO4− centres are tetrahedral. The Mn-O distances are 1.62 Å.
Dilute solutions of KMnO4 convert alkenes into diols (glycols). This behaviour is also used as a qualitative test for the presence of double or triple bonds in a molecule, since the reaction decolorizes the initially purple permanganate solution and generates a brown precipitate (MnO2). It is sometimes referred to as Baeyer's reagent. However, bromine serves better in measuring unsaturation (double or triple bonds) quantitatively, since KMnO4, being a very strong oxidizing agent, can react with a variety of groups.
- CH3(CH2)17CH=CH2 + 2 KMnO4 + 3 H2SO4 → CH3(CH2)17COOH + CO2 + 4 H2O + K2SO4 + 2 MnSO4
- 5 C6H13CHO + 2 KMnO4 + 3 H2SO4 → 5 C6H13COOH + 3 H2O + K2SO4 + 2 MnSO4
- 5 C6H5CH3 + 6 KMnO4 + 9 H2SO4 → 5 C6H5COOH + 14 H2O + 3 K2SO4 + 6 MnSO4
Glycols and polyols are highly reactive toward KMnO4. For example, addition of potassium permanganate to an aqueous solution of sugar and sodium hydroxide produces the "chemical chameleon" reaction, which involves dramatic color changes associated with the various oxidation states of manganese. A related vigorous reaction is exploited as a fire starter in survival kits. For example, a mixture of potassium permanganate and glycerol or pulverized glucose ignites readily. Its sterilizing properties are another reason for inclusion of KMnO4 in a survival kit.
By itself, potassium permanganate does not dissolve in many organic solvents. If an organic solution of permanganate is desired, "purple benzene" may be prepared, either by treating a two phase mixture of aqueous potassium permanganate and benzene with a quaternary ammonium salt, or by sequestering the potassium cation with a crown ether.
Reaction with acids
Concentrated sulfuric acid reacts with KMnO4 to give Mn2O7, which can be explosive. Its reaction with concentrated hydrochloric acid gives chlorine. The Mn-containing products from redox reactions depend on the pH. Acidic solutions of permanganate are reduced to the faintly pink manganese(II) ion (Mn2+) and water. In neutral solution, permanganate is only reduced by three electrons to give MnO2, wherein Mn is in a +4 oxidation state. This is the material that stains one's skin when handling KMnO4. KMnO4 spontaneously reduces in an alkaline solution to green K2MnO4, wherein manganese is in the +6 oxidation state.
A curious reaction occurs upon addition of concentrated sulfuric acid to potassium permanganate. Although no reaction may be apparent, the vapor over the mixture will ignite paper impregnated with alcohol. Potassium permanganate and sulfuric acid react to produce some ozone, which has a high oxidising power and rapidly oxidises the alcohol, causing it to combust. As the reaction also produces explosive Mn2O7, this should only be attempted with great care.
Potassium permanganate decomposes when exposed to light:
- 2 KMnO4 → K2MnO4 + MnO2(s) + O2
Potassium permanganate is one of the principal chemicals used in the film and television industries to "age" props and set dressings. Its oxidising effects create "hundred year old" or "ancient" looks on hessian cloth, ropes, timber and glass.
Water treatment and disinfection
As an oxidant, potassium permanganate can act as an antiseptic. For example, dilute solutions are used to treat canker sores (ulcers), disinfectant for the hands and treatment for mild pompholyx, dermatitis, and fungal infections of the hands or feet. Potassium permanganate is used extensively in the water treatment industry. It is used as a regeneration chemical to remove iron and hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell) from well water via a "Manganese Greensand" Filter. "Pot-Perm" is also obtainable at pool supply stores, is used additionally to treat waste water. Historically it was used to disinfect drinking water. It currently finds application in the control of nuisance organisms such as Zebra mussels in fresh water collection and treatment systems.
Aside from its use in water treatment, the other major application of KMnO4 is as a reagent for the synthesis of organic compounds. Significant amounts are required for the synthesis of ascorbic acid, chloramphenicol, saccharin, isonicotinic acid, and pyrazinoic acid.
Potassium permanganate can be used to quantitatively determine the total oxidisable organic material in an aqueous sample. The value determined is known as the permanganate value. In analytical chemistry, a standardized aqueous solution of KMnO4 is sometimes used as an oxidizing titrant for redox titrations (permanganometry). In a related way, it is used as a reagent to determine the Kappa number of wood pulp. For the standardization of KMnO4 solutions, reduction by oxalic acid is often used.
In histology, potassium permanganate is used to bleach melanin which obscures tissue detail. Pre-treated with potassium permanganate, to obliterate Congo red reactivity, was thought to be definitive for AA amyloidosis; this is now generally considered to be unreliable.
Ethylene absorbents extend storage time of bananas even at high temperatures. This effect can be exploited by packing bananas in polyethylene with potassium permanganate as an ethylene absorbent, that doubles a bananas lifespan up to 3–4 weeks without the need for refrigeration. Ethylene released by the bananas encourage it to ripen; by removing it via oxidation, the bananas' ripening is delayed.
Potassium permanganate is typically included in survival kits: as a fire starter (mixed with antifreeze from a car radiator or glycerin), water sterilizer, and for creating distress signals on snow.
Safety and handling
As an oxidizer that generates the dark brown product MnO2, potassium permanganate rapidly stains virtually any organic material such as skin, paper, and clothing. Solid KMnO4 is a strong oxidizer and thus should be kept separated from oxidizable substances. Reaction with concentrated sulfuric acid produces the highly explosive manganese(VII) oxide (Mn2O7). When solid KMnO4 is mixed with pure glycerol or other simple alcohols it will result in a violent combustion reaction.
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