First discovered in Austria, sodium sulfate was once known as “Miraculous Salt” and was used in 18th century Europe as a medicinal cure for a variety of ailments. Sodium sulfate has evolved through a series of uses since then. Sodium sulfate was long an important material in the manufacture of various detergents and paper. However, changes in both end user applications and regulatory guidelines have reduced the role of sodium sulfate in those industries. Relatively inexpensive and useful as both a filling and leveling agent, sodium sulfate is now used in the manufacture of glass and textiles and is finding new use as part of the gold recovery process from electronic products.
The majority of the sodium sulfate produced globally is from the natural mineral form mirabilite, found mainly in Canadian, Russian and U.S. lake beds. However, sodium sulfate is also a byproduct from various chemical processes, such as battery acid recycling, or silica pigment refining. Technically a waste product, the sodium sulfate from these processes is marketed for the same applications as naturally occurring sodium sulfate.1