Why is Na2SO4 (Sodium Sulfate) Soluble in Water?

Yes, Na2SO4 (Sodium Sulfate) is soluble in water. 1 It is soluble in water because it dissociates into sodium ions (Na+) and sulfate ions (SO4)2- when mixed with water. The attraction between these ions and water molecules allows for the dissolution of sodium sulfate in water.

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Key Takeaways: Is Na2SO4 Soluble in Water?

  • Na2SO4 is soluble in water because it dissociates into sodium ions (Na+) and sulfate ions (SO4)2- when mixed with water.
  • The solubility is due to the strong attraction between the ions in Na2SO4 and water molecules.
  • Factors such as temperature, particle size, and the presence of other substances can affect the solubility of Na2SO4 in water.

Explanation: Why is Na2SO4 soluble in water?

Na2SO4, also known as sodium sulfate, is soluble in water due to its ionic nature and the strong attraction between its constituent ions and water molecules.

Sodium sulfate is an inorganic compound composed of sodium ions (Na+) and sulfate ions [(SO4)2-]. 2 When this compound is added to water, the polar water molecules interact with the ionic components of sodium sulfate through a process called hydration or solvation.

Water molecules have a polar structure, with oxygen atoms having a partial negative charge (δ-) and hydrogen atoms having a partial positive charge (δ+). 3 The sodium ions in Na2SO4 are positively charged, and they are attracted to the partially negative oxygen atoms of water molecules. The oxygen atoms surround the sodium ions, forming a hydration shell or a solvation sphere around each ion. This process is called hydration or dissolving.

Similarly, the sulfate ions in Na2SO4 are negatively charged, and they are attracted to the partially positive hydrogen atoms of water molecules. The hydrogen atoms surround the sulfate ions, forming a hydration shell around each ion.

The strong attraction between the water molecules and the sodium and sulfate ions overcomes the ionic bonds holding the sodium sulfate crystal together. As a result, the crystal lattice breaks apart, and the individual ions become dispersed throughout the water, resulting in a homogeneous solution.

Overall, the solubility of Na2SO4 in water is a result of the favorable interactions between the polar water molecules and the charged ions in sodium sulfate, leading to the dissolution of the compound.

What factors affect the solubility of Na2SO4 in water?

Several factors can influence the solubility of Na2SO4 (sodium sulfate) in water. These factors include:

  • Temperature: Generally, as the temperature of the water increases, the solubility of Na2SO4 also increases. This relationship holds true for many ionic compounds, as higher temperatures provide more energy for the solvent molecules to break apart the crystal lattice and dissolve the solute. 4
  • Pressure: Unlike gases, the solubility of a solid like Na2SO4 is not significantly affected by pressure. 5 Therefore, changes in pressure do not have a significant impact on the solubility of Na2SO4 in water.
  • Particle Size: Finely divided or powdered forms of Na2SO4 tend to have greater solubility than larger crystals. This is because smaller particles have a larger surface area, allowing more contact with the water molecules and facilitating faster dissolution. 6
  • Presence of Other Substances: The presence of certain substances in the water can affect the solubility of Na2SO4. 7 For example, if the water contains another ionic compound that forms a precipitate with sodium or sulfate ions, it may reduce the solubility of Na2SO4. Additionally, the presence of other electrolytes in the solution can influence the solubility due to ionic interactions and the common ion effect.
  • pH: In general, the pH of water does not have a significant impact on the solubility of Na2SO4. However, extreme pH conditions (highly acidic or highly basic) can influence the solubility due to the formation of different species and complex ions. 8 9

How is solubility of Na2SO4 used in various applications?

The solubility of Na2SO4 (sodium sulfate) in water finds application in various industries and processes. Here are a few examples:

  1. Industrial and Chemical Processes: Sodium sulfate’s solubility in water enables its use in detergent manufacturing, glass production, and textile processing. 10 11
  2. Water Treatment: The solubility of sodium sulfate allows it to be used for adjusting water pH and alkalinity in water treatment processes. 12
  3. Pharmaceutical Formulations: Sodium sulfate’s solubility facilitates its use in pharmaceutical formulations, particularly in laxatives and saline laxatives. 13
  4. Chemical Analysis: Sodium sulfate is used as a drying agent in analytical chemistry to remove moisture from samples or solvents. 14

Further reading

Why is Na2CO3 (Sodium Carbonate) Soluble in Water?
Are Alcohols Soluble in Water?
Why is Na2S Soluble in Water?
Is PbI2 Soluble in Water?
Is PbSO4 Soluble in Water?

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  1. Sodium sulfate – Wikipedia. (2007, April 22). Sodium Sulfate – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_sulfate
  2. P. (n.d.). Sodium Sulfate. Sodium Sulfate | Na2SO4 | CID 24436 – PubChem. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/24436
  3. Usgs.gov https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/strong-polar-bond-between-water-molecules-creates-water-cohesion
  4. Solubility. (n.d.). Solubility. https://www.chem.fsu.edu/chemlab/chm1046course/solubility.html
  5. 13.4: Effects of Temperature and Pressure on Solubility. (2013, November 24). Chemistry LibreTexts. https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/General_Chemistry/Book%3A_General_Chemistry%3A_Principles_Patterns_and_Applications_(Averill)/13%3A_Solutions/13.04%3A_Effects_of_Temperature_and_Pressure_on_Solubility
  6. 16.2: Rate of Dissolution. (2016, June 27). Chemistry LibreTexts. https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Introductory_Chemistry/Introductory_Chemistry_(CK-12)/16%3A_Solutions/16.02%3A_Rate_of_Dissolving
  7. Solubility – Wikipedia. (2015, April 22). Solubility – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solubility
  8. pH and solubility (video) | Equilibrium | Khan Academy. (n.d.). Khan Academy. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/ap-chemistry-beta/x2eef969c74e0d802:equilibrium/x2eef969c74e0d802:solubility-equilibria/v/solubility-and-the-ph-of-the-solution
  9. 16.4: The Effects of pH on Solubility. (2015, December 27). Chemistry LibreTexts. https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/General_Chemistry/Map%3A_Principles_of_Modern_Chemistry_(Oxtoby_et_al.)/Unit_4%3A_Equilibrium_in_Chemical_Reactions/16%3A_Solubility_and_Precipitation_Equilibria/16.4%3A_The_Effects_of_pH_on_Solubility
  10. Sodium sulfate. (n.d.). Sodium Sulfate. https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~rwest/wikispeedia/wpcd/wp/s/Sodium_sulfate.htm
  11. Jung, J., & Sun, G. (2001, July 13). Recovery of Sodium Sulfate from Farm Drainage Salt for Use in Reactive Dyeing of Cotton. Environmental Science & Technology, 35(16), 3391–3395. https://doi.org/10.1021/es001497f
  12. Cambridge, C. O. (n.d.). Water Treatment – Water – City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Water Treatment – Water – City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. https://www.cambridgema.gov/water/wateroperationsdivision/watertreatment
  13. Magnesium Sulfate, Potassium Sulfate, and Sodium Sulfate: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Magnesium Sulfate, Potassium Sulfate, and Sodium Sulfate: MedlinePlus Drug Information. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a619013.html
  14. Drying agents. (n.d.). Drying Agents. https://www.chem.ucla.edu/~bacher/Specialtopics/Drying%20Agents.html

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