Potassium Permanganate

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Created by: Team Chemistry - Examples.com, Last Updated: April 25, 2024

Potassium Permanganate

Potassium permanganate is a common chemical compound used in various applications, from water treatment to medical antiseptics. It is known for its distinct purple color, making it easily recognizable. This inorganic compound, with the chemical formula KMnO₄, serves as a strong oxidizing agent in chemistry labs across schools. It plays a crucial role in experiments due to its ability to react with different substances, teaching students about chemical reactions and their outcomes.

What is Potassium Permanganate?

Potassium permanganate is a chemical compound with the formula KMnO₄.. This dark purple or almost black crystal can dissolve in water to create a bright purple solution. It’s known for its strong oxidizing properties, which means it can react with many other substances. Because of this, it’s used in a variety of ways, including disinfecting water, treating wounds, and even in air and water purification systems. Potassium permanganate helps break down organic materials in water, making it cleaner and safer to use

Chemical Names and Formulas

NamePotassium permanganate
Alternate NamesCairox, Chameleon mineral, Condy’s crystals, Permanganate of potash, Potassium manganate(VII), Potassium permanganate(VII)

Structure of Potassium Permanganate

Structure of Potassium Permanganate

Potassium permanganate, with its chemical formula KMnO₄, consists of a potassium ion bonded to a permanganate ion. The structure is noteworthy because the permanganate ion forms a tetrahedral shape, which means it has a central manganese atom surrounded symmetrically by four oxygen atoms. This configuration is crucial for the compound’s strong oxidizing properties. The manganese atom in this structure has a high oxidation state of +7, which is key to its ability to accept electrons from other substances, leading to its use in oxidation reactions and various applications in chemical processes.

Preparation of Potassium Permanganate

Potassium permanganate is prepared through a chemical process involving the reaction of Manganese dioxide (MnO₂) with Potassium hydroxide (KOH). This mixture is heated, and then potassium chlorate (KClO₃) is added to supply oxygen, enhancing the manganese’s oxidation state. The reaction produces potassium manganate (K₂MnO₄), which is green in color. This intermediate compound undergoes an electrolytic oxidation, where it is further oxidized and converted into potassium permanganate. The final step involves a purification process, ensuring the product’s quality and stability.

Here’s a simplified version of the chemical equation for this process:

Formation of potassium manganate: 2MnO₂ + 4KOH + O₂ → 2K₂MnO₄

Conversion to potassium permanganate: 3K₂MnO₄ + 2H₂O → 2KMnO₄ + 4KOH + MnO₂

This sequence of reactions demonstrates the industrial synthesis of potassium permanganate, establishing it as a key component in various chemical applications.

Physical Properties of Potassium Permanganate

AppearanceDark purple or almost black granular solid or crystals.
Solubility in WaterHighly soluble, forming a bright purple solution.
OdorOdorless, making it easy to handle without any strong smell.
Melting PointDecomposes at about 240°C (464°F), does not melt at a stable point.
DensityApproximately 2.7 g/cm³, making it denser than water.
Molecular Weight158.034 g/mol, indicative of its relatively heavy atomic composition.

Chemical Properties of Potassium Permanganate

Oxidizing Agent

  • Potassium permanganate acts as a potent oxidizing agent. It can oxidize a variety of organic and inorganic substances, making it useful in water treatment and as a disinfectant.
  • Equation: 2KMnO₄ + 10FeSO₄ + 8H₂SO₄ → K₂SO₄ + 2MnSO₄ + 5Fe₂(SO₄)₃ + 8H₂O

Reaction with Organic Compounds

  • When mixed with glycerol or other simple alcohols, potassium permanganate reacts vigorously and can even ignite the organic compound.
  • Equation: 14KMnO₄ + 4C₃H₅(OH)₃ → 7K₂CO₃ + 7Mn₂O₃ + 5CO₂ + 16H₂O


  • Potassium permanganate can decompose when heated, releasing oxygen as a byproduct. Decomposition proves useful when a supply of oxygen is necessary.
  • Equation: 2KMnO₄ → K₂MnO₄ + MnO₂ + O₂

Potassium Permanganate (KMnO₄) Chemical Compound Information

Chemical Identifiers

CAS Registry Number7722-64-7
PubChem Compound ID516875
PubChem Substance ID24859164
SMILES Identifier[O-]Mn(=O)=O.[K+]
InChI IdentifierInChI=1/K.Mn.4O/q+1;;;;;-1
RTECS NumberSD6475000
MDL NumberMFCD00011364

NFPA Label

NFPA Health Rating3
NFPA Fire Rating3
NFPA Reactivity Rating0
NFPA HazardsOxidizing agent

Uses of Potassium Permanganate


Water Treatment

Potassium permanganate removes iron and hydrogen sulfide from water, making it clearer by oxidizing these elements.


Its strong oxidizing abilities allow potassium permanganate to kill bacteria and fungi, useful from wound care to aquarium cleaning.

Air Purifier

Used in air purifiers, potassium permanganate cleans indoor air by breaking down organic pollutants.

Chemical Synthesis

Potassium permanganate acts as a reagent in labs, aiding in the creation of various chemical compounds due to its reactive nature.


As an antiseptic, potassium permanganate treats skin conditions like dermatitis and fungal infections, typically used in diluted forms for soaking.


Is Potassium Permanganate Safe?

Potassium permanganate is safe when used correctly and in prescribed concentrations. Mishandling can lead to burns or respiratory issues.

Why is Potassium Permanganate Illegal?

Although potassium permanganate is not illegal, authorities regulate it because of its strong oxidizing properties and its potential for misuse in illegal activities.

Is Potassium Permanganate Harmful to Humans?

Potassium Permanganate can be harmful if ingested, inhaled, or improperly handled, causing respiratory, skin, and eye irritation.

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