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What is potash?

Potash is one of the biggest and highest priced commodities on the market these days. Some of you out there may be wondering exactly what this stuff is, and why it's so important. Here are some facts about potash, where it comes from, and it's uses.

The name potash comes from describing the ash left over in pots after wood was burnt in them. Not only was it used for yielding better crops but also for making glass and soap. It was then many years later discovered that compounds that are very similar could be mined, and thus the modern potash industry was born.

Potash is a sustainable resource as the potassium is constantly recycled throughout the world in what is known as the "global potassium cycle". Humans require at least 2 mg of potassium per day in their diet, so you can see how this commodity will always be in need, more so as the human population keeps growing.

How is potash produced?

Potash derives it's name from the original way that a substance like it was produced. The name comes from the dutch word "potaschen". The method in question leached wood ashes in pots made of iron, after the solution was evaporated the residue left over mostly consisting of potassium carbonate or "pot ash".

Later in history naturally occurring potassium salts were discovered that could be mined, and turned into various products much more efficiently than the traditional method of wood ashes.

Quick facts about potash

Potash is used around the world in almost every industry from food production to industrial manufacturing. Here are some quick facts about this fascinating substance:

  • number one producer is Canada, specifically the province of Saskatchewan
  • it's a mineral mainly composed of potassium, and manufactured salts
  • it's the 3rd most important crop nutrient
  • potash deposits are all around the planet embedded in rock that consists of dried up minerals from ancient seas
  • it's becoming increasingly valuable as the world needs more food for both humans and food for animals that humans consume
  • the biggest company that supplies the world with potash is "Potash company of Saskatchewan"
  • potash, or more specifically the potassium within the potash aids plants in protecting them against harsh and extreme weather. It also helps plants with protection against pests such as insects.
  • potash is still used in modern times to produce glass, soaps and ceramics