Potassium permanganate is an inorganic crystalline solid. It is a strong oxidising agent with disinfectant, deodorising and astringent properties. It dissolves in water to give intensely pink or purple solutions.
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 another source of oxygen, like potassium nitrate or potassium chlorate. This process gives potassium manganate:
2 MnO2 + 4 KOH + O2 → 2 K2MnO4 + 2 H2O
Potassium manganate is then converted into permanganate by electrolytic oxidation in alkaline media:
2 K2MnO4 + 2 H2O → 2 KMnO4 + 2 KOH + H2
Potassium permanganate is used to quantitatively determine the total oxidisable organic material in an aqueous sample.
Potassium permanganate is used to treat various skin conditions such as infected eczema, blistering skin conditions and fungal infections. It can also be utilised for wound cleansing, especially weeping ulcers or abscesses.
It is used extensively as a reagent for the synthesis of organic compounds: ascorbic acid, chloramphenicol, saccharin, isonicotinic acid, and pyrazinoic acid. Also known as Baeyer's reagent, potassium permanganate is used in Qualitative organic analysis to test for the presence of unsaturation.
Potassium permanganate is widely to used control odor and taste in well water, by remove manganese, iron and color from the water, and control biological growth. It is most often used as a pre-treatment before water is filtered, and is better at removing sulfide odors from water than chlorine.