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Zinc sulfate is an inorganic compound known by the formula ZnSO4. It is a colorless, odorless, and crystalline solid. Historically, it was known as white vitriol. It is easily soluble in water with its aqueous solution, being acidic and slightly soluble in ethanol and glycerol. It has non-oxidizing, nonflammable and noncombustible properties. It is hygroscopic and efflorescent in nature and is associated with four hydration states. Zinc sulfate is produced synthetically by combining zinc ash with aqueous sulfuric acid.
Zinc (Zn) is an essential mineral for human, animal, and plant nutrition. Zinc can is also found naturally in the environment, foods, and water. It is an essential component of enzymes involved in metabolic reactions. Furthermore, it is essential for DNA repair and protecting against oxidative stress. Zinc sulfate is used as a source of zinc in cases of zinc deficiencies. Zinc sulfate is used in the form of dietary supplement to treat zinc deficiencies in human. It is used as a fertilizer and agricultural sprays to treat zinc deficiency in crops and improve soil nutrient value. Zinc sulfate is used in animal feeds to treat zinc deficiencies in animals. Besides application as a dietary supplement, zinc sulfate has several applications in chemical industry where it is used as a mordant in dyeing, electrolyte for zinc plating, coagulant in production of rayon (synthetic fiber), clarifying glue and as a reagent for analytical chemistry. Zinc sulfate is also used as a preservative or protective agent for leather, wood and skin. It is used for water purification process, flotation process of mineral separation, bleaching paper, and electrodeposition. It is used as a raw material for manufacturing latex products, desulphurization process, and pigment lithopone zinc sulfate is an herbicide typically used for moss control.
Zinc sulfate accounted a strong growth of application in agrochemicals for fertilizers and animal feed supplements. It is applied on crops, especially pecans, deciduous fruits, peanuts, cotton, corn, and citrus, and added to feeds for cattle, swine, and poultry. In past few years, zinc sulfate fertilizer has gained at the expense of zinc oxysulfate, produced from steel furnace fly-ash. Fear of attendant undesirable heavy metals (e.g., chromium) resulted in some oxysulfate displacement in the fertilizer market. Zinc sulfate is preferred over zinc oxide (ZnO) as a fertilizer because of its better solubility in water, low cost and suitability with all soil types will further boost the zinc sulfate demand in the agriculture industry. Besides this, other application areas such as chemical industry and water treatment are having a steady demand and are expected to remain the same. Zinc sulfate consumption is expected to increase in regions with zinc deficiency such as Africa, India, South America, and Australia.
However, zinc sulfate may be toxic if ingested in large doses. It can cause anemia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, irritation or corrosion of elementary tract, and in severe cases, vomiting of blood. Zinc sulfate inhalation of dust can cause irritation of nose and throat. Both zinc deficiency and overexposure to zinc by ingestion have been associated with harmful effects. Furthermore, inadequate health awareness, low dietary intake, low bioavailability, unhygienic conditions, recurrent infections, poor socioeconomic status, unstable political situation, improper priority setting in national agenda can be a restraining factor to the global zinc sulfate market.
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