From Cargo Handbook - the world's largest cargo transport guidelines website
Infobox on Potash
Example of Potash
Origin -
Stowage factor (in m3/t) 0,77 to 1,03 m3/t
Humidity / moisture -
Ventilation The cargo spaces carrying this cargo shall not be ventilated during the voyage
Risk factors See text


Description / Application

Potash is pink or white in colour and is produced in granual crystals. It is odourless and hygroscopic.

Potash is the common name for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. In some rare cases, potash can be formed with traces of organic materials such as plant remains. Potash is produced mostly for use in fertilisers.

Potassium is the seventh most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and is the third major plant and crop nutrient after nitrogen and phosphorus. It has been used since antiquity as a soil fertiliser (about 90% of current use). Potash is important for agriculture because it improves water retention, yield, nutrient value, taste, colour, texture and disease resistance of food crops. It has wide application to fruit and vegetables, rice, wheat and other grains, sugar, corn, soybeans, Palm Oil and cotton, all of which benefit from the nutrient’s quality enhancing properties.

In addition to its use as a fertiliser, potassium chloride is important in industrialized economies, where it is used in aluminium recycling, by the chloralkali industry to produce Potassium Hydroxide, in metal electroplating, oil-well drilling fluid, snow and ice melting, steel heat-treating, and water softening. Potassium hydroxide is used for industrial water treatment and is the precursor of potassium carbonate, several forms of potassium phosphate, many other potassic chemicals, and soap manufacturing. Potassium carbonate is used to produce animal feed supplements, cement, fire extinguishers, food products, photographic chemicals, and textiles. It is also used in brewing beer, pharmaceutical preparations, and as a catalyst for synthetic rubber manufacturing. These non-fertiliser uses have accounted for about 15% of annual potash consumption in the United States.

Potash, or carbonate of potash, is in fact a mixture of potassium salt with impure form of potassium carbonate (K2CO3). In other words, it is the common term used for the fertiliser forms of the element potassium (K). The name has been derived from the collection water-soluble fraction of wood ash in metal pots when its beneficial fertiliser properties were first recognised many centuries ago.

Potash bearing rock deposits occur in many regions of the world. They are derived from the minerals in ancient seas dried up millions of years ago. Fertiliser potash is mostly derived from these potash rocks. It requires only separation from the salt and other minerals.

Potassium fulfills numerous vital functions in various processes in plants, animals and man. Greater quantities of potash is taken-in and the surpluses are naturally excreted. Hence, it is naturally recycled widely and in large quantities. For adequate nutrient supply of potassium, soil reserves are essentially required, which commonly contain more potassium than any other nutrient, including nitrogen.

Shipment / Storage / Risk factors

No special hazards. This cargo is non-combustible or has a low fire-risk. Potash is hygroscopic and will cake if wet. Solutions are irritating to tissue.

For overseas carriage consult the IMSCB Code (International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code).