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Epsom salts,common name for magnesium sulfate heptahydrate, MgSO4·7H2O, a water-soluble bitter-tasting compound that occurs as white or colorless needle-shaped crystals. It was first prepared from the waters of mineral springs at Epsom, England; it also occurs as the mineral epsomite. Epsom salts is used medicinally as a purgative; it is also used in leather tanning, mordant dyeing, and as a filler in cotton goods and paper.
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a medicinal preparation of hydrated magnesium sulphate, used as a purgative
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005