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ALUM (aluminum sulfate) is a nontoxic material commonly used in water treatment plants to clarify drinking water. In lakes alum is used to reduce the amount of the nutrient phosphorus in the water. Reducing phosphorus concentrations in lake water can have a similar clarifying effect by limiting the availability of this nutrient for algae production.
Aluminium sulfate is a chemical compound with the formula Al2(SO4)3. It is soluble in water and is mainly used as a flocculating agent in the purification of drinking water and waste water treatment plants, and also in paper manufacturing.
Alum: Various isomorphous solid sulfates composed of trivalent metals and univalent metals, especially aluminum potassium sulfate, AlK(SO4)2·12H2O, a white, crystalline compound. Alums have the general formula M2SO4·MIII2(SO4)3·24H2O, where M is one of alkali metals (potassium, sodium, rubidium, caesium, silver. thallium or ammonium), and MIII denotes one of the trivalent cation (e.g., aluminum, chromium, iron, manganese, cobalt, or titanium). In aqueous solution, alums show all the chemical properties that their components show separately. These salts are used in water purification, leather tanning, coagulation agent for rubber latex, mordant dyeing, fireproofing textiles, modifying concrete, baking powder, preparation of lakes, clarifying of turbid liquids and as astringents.
Potassium aluminum sulfate (KAl(SO4)2·12H2O, CAS RN: 7784-24-9 (Dodecahydrate), 10043-67-1 (Anhydrous))
Sodium aluminum sulfate (NaAl(SO4)2·12H2O, CAS RN: 10102-71-3)
Ammonium aluminum sulfate (NH4Al(SO4)2·12H2O, CASR RN: 7784-25-0 (Anhydrous), 7784-26-1 (Dodecahydrate))
Chromium potassium sulfate (KCr(SO4)2·12H2O, CAS RN: 10141-00-1 (Anhydrous), 7788-99-0 (Dodecahydrate))
Aluminum fluorosulfate (FAl(SO4)2·12H2O, CAS RN: 73680-58-7)
Aluminium sulfate is used in water purification and as a mordant in dyeing and printing textiles. In water purification, it causes impurities to coagulate into larger particles and then settle to the bottom of the container (or be filtered out) more easily. This process is called coagulation or flocculation. Research suggests that in Australia, aluminium sulfate used this way in drinking water treatment is the primary source of hydrogen sulfide gas in sanitary sewer systems. Improper and excess application polluted the water supply of Camelford in Cornwall.
When dissolved in a large amount of neutral or slightly alkaline water, aluminium sulfate produces a gelatinous precipitate of aluminium hydroxide, Al(OH)3. In dyeing and printing cloth, the gelatinous precipitate helps the dye adhere to the clothing fibers by rendering the pigment insoluble.
Aluminium sulfate is sometimes used to reduce the pH of garden soil, as it hydrolyzes to form the aluminium hydroxide precipitate and a dilute sulfuric acid solution. An example of what changing the pH level of soil can do to plants is visible when looking at Hydrangea macrophylla. The gardener can add aluminium sulfate to the soil to reduce the pH which in turn will result in the flowers of the Hydrangea turning a different color (blue). The aluminium is what makes the flowers blue; at a higher pH, the aluminium is not available to the plant. Thus, both the aluminium and sulfur keep the plants blue.