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Magnesium sulfate is an inorganic salt commonly known as Epsom salt. It is a white weatherable crystalline solid with no characteristic odour, and it dissolves readily in water and other polar solvents. Anhydrous magnesium sulfate has a density of 2.66 and the boiling point is 1124°C under standard conditions. It is an excellent drying agent in organic synthesis due to its affinity for water and other polar molecules, and it can also be used as a precipitant during crystallization of metal compounds.
In medicine, magnesium sulfate is an anti-arrhythmic drug that can treat polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (torsades de pointes) by decreasing the QT interval and increasing potassium levels. It is available by injection and infusion under a physician’s prescription. It is a component of some dietary supplements and can be found in many over-the-counter drugs, including antacids. It is recommended as a first-line treatment in patients with suspected torsades. In addition, it can be used as a dextrose replacement in severe hypomagnesemia.
Magnesium sulfate anhydrous is often preferred over the heptahydrate (MgSO4*7H2O) when preparing solutions for medical use, as the hydrate readily absorbs water and can make it harder to weigh accurately. It is a popular ingredient in bath salts, as it helps relieve sore muscles and eases the pain of sprains and bruises. It is also used as a draw agent for boils and carbuncles. It is also used in the emulsion of paints and as an additive to kiln-fired ceramics, to prevent sticking and to produce a smooth surface.