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Magnesium sulfate (or sulphate) is a chemical compound containing magnesium and sulfate, with the formula MgSO4. It is often encountered as the heptahydrate, MgSO4·7H2O, commonly called Epsom salts. Anhydrous magnesium sulfate is used as a drying agent. Since the anhydrous form is hygroscopic (readily absorbs water from the air) and therefore harder to weigh accurately, the hydrate is often preferred when preparing solutions, for example in medical preparations. Epsom salts have traditionally been used as a component of bath salts.
Additional recommended knowledge
In 1618 a farmer at Epsom in England attempted to give his cows water, but they refused to drink it due to its sour/bitter taste. However the farmer noticed that the water seemed to heal scratches and rashes. Epsom salt was originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters at Epsom, England, and later prepared from sea water. In modern times, these salts are obtained from certain minerals such as epsomite.
In agriculture and gardening, magnesium sulfate is used to correct magnesium deficiency in soil (magnesium is an essential element in the chlorophyll molecule). It is most commonly applied to potted plants, or to magnesium-hungry crops, such as potatoes, roses, tomatoes, and peppers. The advantage of magnesium sulfate over other magnesium soil amendments (such as dolomitic lime) is its high solubility.
Oral magnesium sulfate, or magnesium hydroxide, is commonly used as a saline laxative. Epsom salts are also available in a gel form for topical application in treating aches and pains.
Indications for its use are
Use in organic chemistry
Anhydrous magnesium sulfate is commonly used as a desiccant in organic synthesis due to its affinity for water. During workup, an organic phase is saturated with magnesium sulfate until it no longer forms clumps. The hydrated solid is then removed with filtration or decantation.
A number of other inorganic sulfate salts, sodium sulfate and calcium sulfate for example, may also be used in the same way.
Magnesium sulfate is used as in bath salts, particularly in flotation therapy where high concentrations raise the bath water's specific gravity, effectively making the body more buoyant. This property is also used to restore some Lava lamps damaged by being shaken by exchanging the water and adding drops of a concentrated solution until sustainable buoyancy is reached. Traditionally, it is also used to prepare foot baths, intended to soothe sore feet. The reason for the inclusion of the salt is partially cosmetic: the increase in ionic strength prevents some of the temporary skin wrinkling ("pruning") which is caused by prolonged immersion of extremities in pure water. However, magnesium sulfate can also be absorbed into the skin, reducing inflammation. It is also recommended for dropsy treatment for fish. It may also be used as a coagulant for making tofu. Magnesium sulfate is listed as an ingredient in Dasani brand bottled water, presumably to enhance its mouth feel.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Magnesium_sulfate". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|