Things to Do With Potassium Permanganate

Do you wonder how water purification processes are able to disinfect bacteria and other substances so effectively? The reason is partly due to an inorganic chemical compound known as potassium permanganate. This compound is an oxidizing agent and will react with most organic compounds. Besides purifying water, potassium permanganate has other conventional uses, such as the removal of the "rotten egg smell" in a water supply, or in the purification of a backyard fish pond.

Water Filter or Purifier

Installing a whole house filter to purify the water from every source can be expensive, but will assuredly solve any problems relating to excess iron, manganese, or other minerals that can be present. Nowadays, chlorination is the usual means by which to purify water. However, potassium permanganate is a suitable substitute, as it oxidizes thoroughly without leaving a toxic byproduct . It is also used in conventional water treatment plants, often added to the raw water prior to filtration, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. As a substance, it is easy to transport, store, and supply, and produces little to no negative byproducts.

Elimination of "Rotten Egg" Smell

Due to its oxidizing properties, potassium permanganate can help combat the negative effects of decomposing organic materials, according to softwater.com. As water from underground deposits is drawn to the surface, hydrogen sulfide gas--both flammable and poisonous--can be released into the atmosphere. Potassium permanganate combats the organic material, thus destroying the smell it emits. This procedure is also used to treat waste water.


In some studies, potassium permanganate has been proven to inactivate certain bacteria and viruses, similar to its capacity to disinfect waterborne pathological organisms. A study on the EPA website outlines instances in which the compound has killed microorganisms such as Vibrio cholera and E. coli.

Cleansing Fish Ponds

Potassium permanganate, when added to fish ponds or pools, may interact with any organic matter, including algae and fish. However, its main use is to eliminate common fish pathogens such as gill parasites and bacterial infections. It won't greatly increase the amount of oxygen in the pond; it may actually decrease oxygen levels as it kills off oxygen-producing algae. Therefore, adding the proper dilution of potassium permanganate is critical. The amount needed depends upon the size of the pond and amount of water present.

About the Author

Lana Ulrich is a freelancer writer living and working in Philadelphia. A Penn State graduate holding a B.A. in English with honors, she has been writing since 2006, when she was first published in "The Daily Collegian" as an opinion columnist. Her interests include cultural and political theory and literature, but she also enjoys writing on such topics as health, fitness and nutrition.