Is Epsom salt biodegradable? (5 properties of salts).

This blog shall answer the question, “is Epsom salt biodegradable?”.

Also covered in this article will be:

  • Definition of Epsom salt.
  • Types of salts.
  • Uses of Epsom salt.
  • Pros and cons of Epsom salt.
  • Eco-friendliness of Epsom salt.

Is Epsom salt biodegradable?

No, Epsom salt is non-biodegradable because it is an inorganic substance. Biodegradation only happens to natural organic matter. Salts are made up of non-carbon elements.

Every substance which contains carbon is said to be organic and hence biodegradable while the substances without carbon elements are said to be inorganic and hence non-biodegradable.

Some salts such as Epsom are found naturally in rocks while others such as table salt are synthesized from chemical elements.

Salts can be categorized in various ways depending on their chemical and physical characteristics, their mode of processing, and the form in which they occur.

Salts are one of the most important substances in our day-to-day life.

They have several uses which range from domestic, industrial, and medical to agricultural.

Different salts have different uses and the concentration of different salts in our environment has different effects on plants, animals, soil, and water bodies.

What are salts?

Salt is a chemical that naturally occurs in salt rocks or is synthesized by chemical processes.

Most salts occur in crystalline nature.

Salts can be found in rocks, lakes, seas, and oceans.

Properties of salts.

Salts are categorized in many ways and one of the most common ways is by their chemical characteristics to water.

Alkali salts.

These are salts that produce hydroxide (OH) ions when they dissolve in water.

Acid salts.

These are types of salts that produce hydrogen ions, hence forming acidic solutions when they are dissolved in water.

Neutral salts.

These are types of salts that produce neither hydroxyl nor hydrogen ions when they dissolve in water and therefore, they do not form acidic or alkali solutions.

Hygroscopic salts.

These are types of salts that absorb water from other substances or the atmosphere but do not form solutions.

Deliquescent salts.

These are types of salts that absorb water from other substances or the atmosphere and form solutions with that water.

Efflorescent salts. 

These are types of salts that lose water to the atmosphere and form crystals.

Different salts have different physical and chemical salts.

The following are the properties of different types of salts.

Based on color.

Different salts have different colors depending on their chemical components.

Here are some examples:

  • Chromate-containing salts are yellow.
  • Dichromate-based salts are orange in color.
  • Hydrated cobalt II based salts are red 
  • Permanganate ion-based salts are violet in color.
  • Hydrated nickel II chloride-based salts are green in color.
  • Copper-based salts are blue.
  • Some salts are colorless because their components do not have any color.

Based on taste.

Different salts have different tastes. 

Some salts like sodium chloride are salty.

Some salts such as lead diacetate are sweet, although it causes lead poisoning when ingested, and therefore, it is not safe to consume.

Some salts such as potassium bitartrate are sour.

Some salts such as magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) are bitter.

Some salts such as monosodium glutamate are umami/savory.

Based on odor.

Salts contain different odors depending on their chemical constituents.

Salts made from strong acids such as sulfuric acid and strong bases such as sodium hydroxide are non-volatile and therefore, elicit no odor.

Salts made from weak acids such as ethanoic acid and weak bases are volatile and therefore, they produce odors similar to the acids or bases from which they were made.

Salts from ethanoic acid will smell like ethanoic acid, ammonium salts will smell like ammonia.

Based on solubility.

All salts have some degree of solubility in water.

Some salts are completely soluble in water, while others are partially soluble.

Solubility is also dependent on the concentration of salts and the temperature of the solvent.

Solubility increases with temperature.

Most salts from sodium and potassium ammonium are water-soluble.

Most carbonates are not insoluble or partially soluble in water.

Uses of salt.

Salt is one of the most essential substances in our lives.

Different salts have different purposes depending on their chemical constitution.

The following are the most common uses of salts.

In food seasoning.

Salt is to food as sugar is to beverages such as tea and coffee.

It is used as the primary substance to add taste to food.

The type of salt used in seasoning is the edible type, sodium chloride, commonly called table salt 

In food preservation.

Salt is used in food preservation, in a process called salting. Salting is one of the oldest methods of food preservation.

Meat and fish were the first and most common types of food preserved by salting Brine type of salt is the one used in this process 

The essence of salting in food preservation is to remove moisture which is one of the main catalysts for food spoilage.

In agriculture.

Salts are some of the most common substances used in the field of agriculture.

There are several uses of salts in agriculture, they include:

  • As for fertilizers- most inorganic fertilizers used in our farms are salt-based. 

Nitrogen-producing fertilizers will most likely be salt or ammonia.

Metals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, Cobalt, and gold are very essential for crops. They are provided to the crops in salt form.

A salt such as potassium sulfate will provide the crops with potassium and sulfur elements.

  • As media for water treatment- salts such as Epsom are used to treat water for agriculture.
  • Animals use salt such as Epsom to improve their metabolism and hence lead a healthy life.

In industries.

Salt is a very important ingredient in different industries.

  • In food processing industries, salts are used as a preservative for food products.

Salt is also used to improve the taste of food products.

  • In plastic industries, salt is used in hardening and treating plastics to make them hard, and more durable.
  • In battery industries, salts are used as electrolytes to conduct electricity.
  • In the medical field, salt is used to treat the problems of blood pressure and other illnesses such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

What is Epsom salt?

According to an article, Epsom is a magnesium sulfate salt that is made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen elements.

There are many types of magnesium salt depending on the concentration of water in the salt 

There are such examples as magnesium sulfate monohydrate, magnesium sulfate hexahydrate, magnesium sulfate dihydrate, and many more others.

Epsom salt is specifically magnesium sulfate heptahydrate, meaning that it has 7 moles of water. 

A mole is a measure of the molar concentration of a substance.

Magnesium and sulfate ions are the second most abundant ions after sodium and chloride, as result, magnesium sulfate salt is naturally found in water bodies and as rock salt.

Uses of Epsom salt.

The following are the uses of Epsom salt.

  • It is used to maintain the concentration of magnesium in aquariums.
  • It is used to make some kind of cement.
  • It is used as a coagulant to make tofu.
  • It is used as a salt in beer making.
  • It was widely used to treat lead poisoning.
  • It is used as a fertilizer to increase the concentration of magnesium in the soil.
  • It is used in isolation tanks to increase buoyancy in water by increasing the specific gravity of the water in the tank.
  • It is used in foot baths to soothe sore feet.
  • Used in the treatment of asthma, preeclampsia, and eclampsia.

Eco-friendliness of Epsom salt.

Epsom salt is eco-friendly.

It is made up of elements that easily dissolve in water and are used by plants or animals for their metabolic reactions.

However, when overused, Epsom salt increases the concentration of magnesium in soil and water and this makes the soil and water toxic to plants and animals.

Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate which is the main element that causes water hardness.

This makes water consume a lot of soap and detergents when doing laundry.

Hard water also stains clothes.

Conclusion.

This article has answered the question of the biodegradation of Epsom salt.

In addition, other areas have been covered, they include:

  • Properties of salts.
  • Uses of salts.
  • Definition of Epsom salt.
  • Uses of Epsom salt.
  • Eco-friendliness of Epsom salt.

For any questions or comments, use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs): is Epsom salt biodegradable?

Is Epsom salt biodegradable?

No, Epsom salt is not biodegradable because it does not contain organic elements.

It is made up of chemical elements such as magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen which are not biodegradable.

However, the elements of Epsom salt are used up by plants and animals for their metabolic reactions and therefore, Epsom salt does not pollute the environment unless it is overused.

Does Epsom salt break down in the water?

Yes, Epsom salt is a soluble salt that breaks down in water into its different constituents.

The elements of Epsom are then absorbed by plants or animals in their ionic forms.

Is Epsom salt good for plants?

Yes, Epsom salt is a food-grade salt for plants.

It replenishes the soil with magnesium which is an element that is required by plants for synthesis.

Citations.

Ingraham, Paul. “Does Epsom Salt Work? The science of Epsom salt bathing for recovery from muscle pain, soreness, or injury”. Pain Science. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2016.

Lu. JF, et al.,( April 2000). Magnesium sulfate in eclampsia and pre-eclampsia: Pharmacokinetics principal.

Retrieved from:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10803454/#:~:text=Magnesium%20sulfate%20(MgSO4)%20is%20the,the%20intramuscular%20or%20intravenous%20routes.

Eby, George A.; Eby, Karen L. (April 2010). “Magnesium for treatment-resistant depression: a review and hypothesis”. Medical Hypotheses. 74 (4): 649–660. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2009.10.051. 

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