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Sodium Sulfate Anhydrous, Reagent Grade (ACS) is a dry, white crystalline solid of formula Na2SO4. It has a density of about 2.04 g/cm3. This is the form of sodium sulfate that does not contain water molecules and is used as a drying agent. This reagent is also used in a wide range of other industrial applications.
Originally discovered by Johann Rudolf Glauber in 1625 from Austrian spring water, it was first used as a medicinal salt and named as sal mirabilis. The deca hydrate form is still used as Glauber’s salt and is the main raw material for producing soda ash in the large scale Leblanc process. It is also a common ingredient in powdered home laundry detergents and can be found in many other cleaning products, such as glass cleaners.
The anhydrous form of this chemical is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water from the environment and converts to the hydrated form on heating. It is soluble in water, glycerol and hydrogen iodide, but is insoluble in many organic solvents. The hydrated form of this substance is a common irritant and it can cause gastrointestinal distress, such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.
Sodium sulfate is toxic to fish and can be discharged into freshwater or marine environments. Its acute toxicity is high, but it has low chronic toxicity, and its environmental persistence is not expected to be long. Despite its toxicity, it is a popular choice for passive solar heating systems due to its unusual solubility characteristics in water, which can be seen on this graph.