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About Salts

Salts are ionic compounds composed of cations and anions in appropriate proportions to produce electrically neutral species. Salts are named by cation species first followed by anion species. Examples of common salts include sodium chloride, sodium bisulfate, calcium chloride and potassium dichromate.


Halides are compounds in which a halogen atom (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine) acts as the anionic species bound to a cationic species. Metal halides are typically used for lighting, photographic films and other applications depending on the specific compound. Fluorides are used in toothpastes, as a food additive, in optical materials, and in biological applications as a phosphatase inhibitor. Chlorides are frequently used in electrolysis and desalination. Bromides are found in veterinary medicine and diagnostics. Iodides are added to table salt as a supplement. Many metal halides serve as important precursor materials in thin film deposition and, more recently, in the formation of perovskite solar cells.


Oxyanions are polyatomic anions which incorporate oxygen and can be formed by a majority of elements. Common oxyanion compounds include borates, bromates, bromites, carbonates, chlorates, chlorites, phosphates, nitrates, silicates, and sulfates. Oxyanions are named by the oxidation state of the central oxygen-bound atom. Examples of oxyanions include phosphate compounds which are found abundantly in biological systems as energy storage compounds, ATP and ADP, nitrate compounds which are used in fertilizers and as oxidizing agents, and carbonates found in biological systems to function as a pH buffer.


Salts are found in numerous products and processes including batteries, metallurgy, renewable energy, chemical synthesis, industrial processes and biomaterials. Batteries and fuel cells typically use salts as electrolytes allowing ions to move from one electrode to another. For example salt water electrolytes are used in both fuel cells and batteries enabling the flow of current between electrodes. Another area of active research and application of salts includes using molten salts in extractive metallurgy, thermal storage, heat treatments and metal surface modification. In extractive metallurgy, one commonly used technique is to convert metals into soluble or molten salts. Steel annealing heat treatments typically make use of molten chloride salts and fluoride salts are used in the product of aluminum. In addition, metal salts are used to produce the brilliant colors of fireworks.

A wide variety of industrial applications exist for inorganic salts including pulp and paper manufacturing, agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, and glass colorants or pigments. Metal salts are also frequently used as semiconductor dopants to produce select conductivity requirements.


Hydrated & Anhydrous

Salts can take on either hydrated or anhydrous forms. Hydrated salts are salt compounds that include water molecules in their crystal structure. Many salts are found in hydrated form and maintain a solid crystalline state. The hydration of salt crystals is known as the water of crystallization, where water is often required for the crystal formation of the salt. Common types of hydrated salts include magnesium salts such as Epsom salt and gypsum which is abundantly used in construction materials. Anhydrous salts are salts that do not contain water molecules within their crystal structure. Salts that take on an anhydrous form are usually found in powder form.

Ultra Dry

American Elements specializes in manufacturing ultra dry and anhydrous compounds for oxygen and moisture sensitive applications. Ultra Dry Materials are produced at high purities and packaged under argon to ensure oxygen and water impurities are minimized. Purities may include 99%, 99.9%, 99.99%, 99.999% and 99.9999%, which are sometimes referred to as 2N, 3N, 4N, 5N and 6N. American Elements maintains industrial scale production for all its Ultra Dry products.


Some salt compounds are soluble in water and form aqueous ionic solutions. The most common salt solution is brine formed from sodium chloride solution in water. Other common ionic salt solutions contain salts of potassium, calcium, or magnesium.

American Elements produces solutions of a variety of compounds under the trademark AE Solutions™. We specialize in rare earth compound solutions, including compounds of lanthanum, cerium, erbium, ytterbium, neodymium, and yttrium, as well as solutions of compounds other rare metals of industrial importance, including compounds of palladium, platinum, hafnium, scandium, niobium, tungsten, and ruthenium. We also produce solutions of more common commodity compounds, including chlorides, nitrates, sulfates, and acetates of common metals such as copper, tin, and nickel.

American Elements can prepare homogenous solutions at customer specified concentrations or to the maximum stoichiometric concentration. Packaging is available in 55 gallon drums, smaller units and larger liquid totes.

American Elements maintains solution production facilities in the United States, Northern Europe (Liverpool, UK), Southern Europe (Milan, Italy), Australia and China to allow for lower freight costs and quicker delivery to our customers worldwide.

American Elements metal and rare earth compound solutions find a wide variety of applications across industries, including uses in petrochemical cracking, water treatment, plating, textiles research, defense, and optics.

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American Elements manufactures inorganic salts in high purity and ultra high purity forms (99%, 99.9%, 99.99%, 99.999% and 99.9999%) and in specifications ranging from ACS grade to crystal grade; we employ ICP-MS trace metals analysis to parts per million (ppm) and parts per billion (ppb) level impurities certified.

American Elements is capable of producing most materials in a range of different forms including: anhydrous or ultra dry forms, solutions and dispersions, powders, and bulk solids (flakes, granules, pellets).

Health & Safety

Safety hazards related to chemicals and salts vary based on their chemical make up. Salts containing toxic metals should be considered poisonous, and reactive compounds should be handled with care. Always consult safety information regarding the specific compound you are using before handling the compound, and store reactive compounds in appropriate containers.

Recent Research & Development for Chemicals & Salts

  • Niels Peter Aae Christensen, Søren Nielsen, Jukka Rantanen, Claus Cornett, Poul Bertelsen, Processing-induced salt formation of two oxicams in solid dosage forms affects dissolution behavior and chemical degradation, Powder Technology, Volume 266, November 2014
  • V.M. Sglavo, A. Quaranta, V. Allodi, G. Mariotto, Analysis of the surface structure of soda lime silicate glass after chemical strengthening in different KNO3 salt baths, Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids, Volume 401, 1 October 2014
  • Tingzhi Liu, Huan Ke, Hao Zhang, Shuwang Duo, Qi Sun, Xiaoyan Fei, Guyue Zhou, Hui Liu, Lijuan Fan, Effect of four different zinc salts and annealing treatment on growth, structural, mechanical and optical properties of nanocrystalline ZnS thin films by chemical bath deposition, Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing, Volume 26, October 2014
  • Inés Otero, Enriqueta R. López, Manuela Reichelt, Josefa Fernández, Tribo-chemical reactions of anion in pyrrolidinium salts for steel–steel contact, Tribology International, Volume 77, September 2014
  • Zhen Dong, Xiangzeng Wang, Zhe Liu, Bei Xu, Jianshe Zhao, Synthesis and physic-chemical properties of anion–nonionic surfactants under the influence of alkali/salt, Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, Volume 419, 20 February 2013
  • Tabish Rasheed, Shamoon Ahmad Siddiqui, Nadir Bouarissa, Quantum chemical investigations on superhalogen properties of MnFn (n = 1.6) nano-complexes and the consequential possibility of formation of new MnFn–Na salt species, Journal of Fluorine Chemistry, Volume 146, February 2013
  • Meng Cao, Bin Lei Zhang, Liang Li, Jian Huang, Shou Ren Zhao, Hong Cao, Jin Chun Jiang, Yan Sun, Yue Shen, Effects of zinc salts on the structural and optical properties of acidic chemical bath deposited ZnS thin films, Materials Research Bulletin, Volume 48, Issue 2, February 2013
  • L. Limousy, P. Dutournié, E. Chevereau-Landais, Description of the preferential transport of monovalent salts through Na–mordenite membrane: Physico-chemical aspects, Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, Volume 167, February 2013
  • M. Picot, R. Rodulfo, I. Nicolas, A. Szymczyk, F. Barrière, M. Rabiller-Baudry, A versatile route to modify polyethersulfone membranes by chemical reduction of aryldiazonium salts, Journal of Membrane Science, Volumes 417–418, 1 November 2012
  • Jeannette Jacqueline Łucejko, Francesca Modugno, Maria Perla Colombini, Magdalena Zborowska, Archaeological wood from the Wieliczka Salt Mine Museum, Poland - Chemical analysis of wood degradation by Py(HMDS)-GC/MS, Journal of Cultural Heritage, Volume 13, Issue 3, Supplement, September 2012