Ferrous Sulfate: A Multipurpose Chemical Compound


Ferrous sulfate (FeSO4) is an inorganic compound commonly known as copperas. It is used in a wide variety of applications ranging from water treatment to agriculture.

Chemical properties

Ferrous sulfate is a green-colored crystalline solid that readily dissolves in water. Its chemical formula is FeSO4.7H2O, which means it contains iron, sulfur, oxygen and water molecules. Ferrous refers to the 2+ oxidation state of iron in this compound. It exists as ferrous hydroxysulfate in solution.

When heated, Ferrous Sulfate loses its water molecules to form ferrous sulfate anhydrous (FeSO4). On further heating, it breaks down to iron oxide and sulfur dioxide. Ferrous sulfate reacts with bases to form ferrous hydroxide precipitate. It also shows acid-base reactions and acts as a reducing agent in some chemical reactions.

Water treatment

One of the major uses of ferrous sulfate is in water purification processes. It is used as a coagulant to remove impurities like dirt, algae, bacteria and viruses suspended in water. When ferrous sulfate is added to contaminated water, it forms ferric hydroxide flocs. These flocs attract and trap the suspended particles and make them settle down, clarifying the water.

Municipal water suppliers commonly use ferrous sulfate to treat water before distribution. It helps reduce turbidity and purify water for domestic, commercial and industrial uses. Ferrous sulfate treatment makes water safer for drinking. Some municipalities also use it for wastewater treatment in sewage plants.

Iron supplementation

Ferrous sulfate is an important iron supplement used to treat and prevent iron deficiency anemia. It provides bioavailable iron to the body. Ferrous sulfate supplements are readily absorbed in the stomach.

Iron is essential for red blood cell formation. However, people with low iron intake or increased iron loss due to conditions like heavy menstruation can become anemic. Ferrous sulfate supplements help boost hemoglobin levels and iron stores in such individuals. Pregnant women, young children and women of reproductive age are prescribed this supplement to meet higher iron requirements.

Agricultural uses

For agriculture, ferrous sulfate is commonly used as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. It supplies iron to plants in a soluble form which they can readily absorb through roots. Some crops like beans, berries, peaches etc are prone to iron deficiency despite having iron-rich soil. Spraying ferrous sulfate solution on plant leaves or adding it to soil treats chlorosis (lime-induced chlorosis) in these plants.

Ferrous sulfate also helps reduce soil alkalinity. High pH level in alkaline soils restricts iron availability and uptake by plants. Lowering soil pH with ferrous sulfate makes iron soluble and accessible to plants. Farmers sometimes apply it as a fertilizer for wheat and other cereals to boost yields. In aquaculture, ferrous sulfate dosing maintains optimal iron levels in pond water and fish feed.

Industrial applications

The dyeing, printing and photography industries utilize ferrous sulfate. It acts as a mordant to set dyes on fabrics. Ferrous sulfate bonds dye molecules to cloth fibers, improving color fastness. In photographic development, it is used as an additive in the fixer solution. Along with other ingredients, ferrous sulfate helps the fixer dissolve and remove unused silver salts from film, allowing the fixed image to become visible.

Ferrous sulfate also serves industrial uses like water treatment in boiler feedwater and cooling systems. It prevents corrosion byDeposit Control. Some manufacturing processes use it as a catalyst or reagent. Ferrous chemicals have important roles in cement production too. Overall, this robust and cost-effective chemical finds myriad applications across domains.

Health effects and precautions

Excess ferrous sulfate intake through supplements above recommended doses can cause side effects like abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Prolonged high consumption may lead to hemochromatosis – a condition involving iron overload in the body.

Ferrous sulfate should not be taken by people with hemochromatosis or other iron build-up disorders without medical advice. Individuals with peptic ulcer should also consult a doctor before use, as it can aggravate GI issues.

This concludes the detailed look at the versatile ferrous sulfate compound – its chemical nature, uses in water treatment, agriculture, industries and health supplements with necessary precautions. Ferrous sulfate has truly earned its place as a multipurpose chemical in modern times owing to the diverse roles it fulfills.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it