Magnesium Sulphate - MgSO₄

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What is Magnesium Sulphate MgSO4?

Magnesium sulphate is a salt of magnesium with sulphuric acid. It is an anhydrous inorganic salt. However its anhydrous form is quite unstable so this salt exists as its hydrate salt with common formula MgSO4.nH2O where it can have different values like 1,2,3...7.. etc. The most common hydrate salt of Magnesium sulphate is the Magnesium sulphate heptahydrate which has 7 molecules of water and has a formula MgSO4.7H2O. This salt is also known as Epsom salt.

Structure of MgSO4 Molecules

Magnesium sulphate is an ionic salt. It is formed when an ionic bond is formed between magnesium ion Mg+2 and sulphate ion SO4-2.  There is an electrostatic force of attraction between the positive magnesium ion and the negative sulphate ion. The structure of sulphate ion consists of 2 oxygen atoms doubly bonded to the sulphur atom and 2 oxygen atoms singly bonded to the same sulphur atom. 

Magnesium Sulphate Chemical Formula

The chemical formula of Magnesium sulphate is MgSO4. This formula is obtained by crisscrossing the valency of the magnesium and sulphate ions. Both have the same valency, therefore, it gets cancelled and one is obtained. 

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Certain Facts about Magnesium Sulphate

  • Magnesium sulphate heptahydrate is also known as Epsom salt.

  • In medicine,  doses of magnesium sulphate can be administered orally or intravenously. 

  • Anhydrous magnesium sulphate is used as a desiccant.

  • Magnesium sulphate is also known as the sulphuric acid magnesium salt.

  • Magnesium sulphate is believed to prevent labour pains in pregnant women. 

  • Eclampsia is a condition of pregnant women where seizures occur during or after childbirth. Magnesium sulphate is believed to control eclampsia in pregnant women. However, this condition is rare and its cases are less than 1 million per year in India.

  • In pregnant women, it is used to control seizures. However, it's not considered safe to administer magnesium sulphate doses during pregnancy. 

  • In the preparation of tofu, coagulants are required. Magnesium sulphate is used as a coagulant in tofu making.

  • Magnesium sulphate hydrate salts are used to form various double salts. Potassium magnesium sulphate and sodium magnesium sulphate are some of the double salts that include magnesium sulphate as their components.

  • In making beer magnesium sulphate salt is used as a brewing salt.

Properties of Magnesium Sulphate MgSO4

Physical properties of magnesium sulphate are-

  • Its hydrate forms are crystalline solids and are white. Magnesium sulphate is an anhydrous solid salt of white colour.

  • It is an odourless salt.

  • Magnesium sulphate salt is soluble in water. It's interesting to note that the solubility of magnesium sulphate increases with increase in temperature.

  • Magnesium sulphate is not soluble in organic solvents like alcohol.

  • The density of anhydrous magnesium sulphate is 2.66g/cm3.

  • The molecular weight of magnesium sulphate is 120.366 g/mol.

  • Magnesium sulphate is not tasteless. Rather it has a bitter taste and saline taste.

  • The melting point of this salt is very high and is around 1120 degree Celsius.

Adverse Effects of Magnesium Sulphate on Humans.

  • If higher doses of magnesium sulphate are taken then it can be life-threatening. Doses greater than recommended by the doctor if taken can prove lethal.

  • Excessive consumption of magnesium sulphate leads to a condition hypermagnesemia, which refers to the excess of magnesium ions in the blood. This excess magnesium interferes with the normal functions of the body. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What Does MgSO4 Do?

There are various applications of magnesium sulphate salt due to its excellent properties. Some of these are given below-

  • In order to treat the condition of low magnesium in the body, magnesium sulphate doses are given.

  • Magnesium sulphate heptahydrate is believed to be a nerve depressant so it's used as a bath soak and also in various medications related to the nervous system of the body.

  • Epsom salt is found helpful in the removal of muscle pain and pain due to sprains.

  • Epsom salt removes splinters also.

  • It is also used to treat constipation and a laxative.

Q2. Comment on the Importance of Magnesium Sulphate for Plants and the Adverse Effects of Magnesium Sulphate for Humans.

Adverse effects of Magnesium sulphate for plants are as follows-

  • Magnesium is an essential micronutrient required by the plants. Epsom salt is used to enrich the soil with magnesium ions.

  • Magnesium is required by plants for chlorophyll formation thus plays an important role in photosynthesis. It plays an important role in the absorption of other elements by the plant. It also helps in flower growth in the plant.

  • Epsom salt is good for tomatoes, and rose plants.