Abstract In a recent paper, a fifth order polynomial curve was presented which fits very well to the existing experimental data on K-shell ionization cross-sections induced by protons. It is a universal curve, in the sense that it includes target atoms of any Z number at any projectile (proton) energy. In principle, it is possible to fit in the same curve the cross-sections obtained with any ion as a projectile, by means of a scaling law derived from the plane wave Born approximation (PWBA) and the binary encounter approximation (BEA) models. Experimental data with deuterons, alpha particles and 3He ions were fit into the same curve, with a good agreement. The agreement was poorer for experimental cross-sections obtained with heavier ions, like 12C, 14N and 40Ar. The discrepancies are attributable to several aspects of the ion–atom interaction, not considered in the derivation of such scaling law. The ECPSSR model has been more successful on predicting the cross-sections for heavy ions. Within the considerations in the ECPSSR and other models, arguments are given to explain the former discrepancies and suggestions are made to generalize the scaling law to fit the heavy ion data in a single curve.