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Key uses are:
- Fluxes for welding
- Additives to detergents.
- Improving mortars and paints
Potassium silicate is specifically recommended as a binder for consumerable electrodes (stick rods) which are used with alternating current welding machines. It produces a steady hot arc, with lower arc voltage than sodium silicate, (which tends to splutter or extinguish). Along with good binding properties potassium silicate serves as a fluxing component.
It enhances the wetting and cleaning properties of detergents and cleaners.
Mortars prepared with potassium silicate show less tendency to stick to the trowel and have more body (thixotrophy) to hold bricks in place before setting permanently. They have good heat insulation and fire resistant properties, and are particularly useful in refractory cements, as they will withstand far higher temperatures than those containing sodium silicate.
Potassium silicate films are acid resistant, do not bloom or effloresce and are valuable as a pigment vehicle for brick, concrete and stone. The scientist Adolf Wilhelm Keim sucessfully combined potassium silicate with inorganic colour pigments to produce a paint that both penetrates, and chemically reacts with, the mineral substrate onto which it is applied. The paint becomes a part of the surface, whereas organic paints merely form a skin on the surface. Buildings decorated with Keim paint in the 19th century are still in excellent condition today. Amongst such examples are City Hall, Schwyz, Switzerland, (decorated 1891) and facades in Oslo, Norway (1895) and in Traunstein, Germany (1891). Paint containing potassium silicate was first developed by scientists in response to a request from King Ludwig I of Bavaria. The art loving King was a great admirer of Italian lime fresco work and longed for it in his own country, However, the harsh climate north of the Alps destroyed such frescos within a short time. It was found that frescos could be acheived with the liquid silicate paint, which had a similiar appearance to lime fresco, but much greater durability.
Commercial hydroponic growers use Potassium Silicate for fungal control, heat stress and drought resistance with good success worldwide. Potassium Silicate is a highly soluble alkaline and therefore will raise the pH of the nutrient solution.