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any one of various salts of sulfuric acid, H2SO4. There are two series of sulfates: the normal sulfates, M2SO4, and the acid sulfates, MHSO4, where M is a monovalent metal.
Sulfates are crystalline compounds, which are colorless if the cation is colorless, and in most cases are readily soluble in water. Sparingly soluble sulfates are encountered as the minerals gypsum, CaSO4·2H2O; celestite, SrSO4; and anglesite, PbSO4. The mineral barite, BaSO4, and RaSO4 are virtually insoluble in water. Acid sulfates have been isolated in the solid state only for the most reactive metals, such as sodium and potassium. These salts are readily soluble in water, and they fuse easily. Normal sulfates may be obtained by dissolving metals in sulfuric acid and by the action of sulfuric acid on oxides, hydroxides, and carbonates of metals. Acid sulfates are obtained by heating normal sulfates with concentrated H2SO4:
K2SO4 + H2SO4 = 2KHSO4
The crystal hydrates of the sulfate salts of some heavy metals are called vitriols.
Sulfate minerals are widely used in many branches of industry.
I. K. MALINA