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Barium Sulfate

It is an inorganic compound that is present as Barite, a mineral which is the primary commercial source of Barium as well as materials that are manufactured from it.

Barium Sulfate Chemical Formula

The chemical formula for Barium Sulfate is BaSO4.

Barium Sulfate Appearance

This compound appears as a white crystalline solid that cannot be dissolved in water. As Barite, it has a white opaque appearance with a high density.

What Is Barium Sulfate Suspension?

It is the name given to the suspension of Barium Sulfate. A radiologist often transforms the powdered form of this compound into a liquid by suspending it in a quick-flowing drink. This is done before carrying out a CT scan to make a better CT scan of the gastrointestinal area. The patient has to intake it orally, refraining from other foods and drinks for some. The suspension is generally consumed anywhere from 90 min – 2 hours before the CT scan is performed. A small amount of the suspension is kept aside for the minutes immediately prior to the test, to make sure that the maximum area of the gastrointestinal tract is coated.

Patients are encouraged to resume normal intake of foods and drinks once the scan is completed. The Barium Sulfate leaves the physical system through defecation. A probable side effect of this process is constipation.

Barium Sulfate Picture

Picture 1 – Barium Sulfate
Source –

Barium Sulfate MSDS

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Barium Sulfate is as follows:

Exposure Effects

  • Skin exposure – The skin, after contact with this substance, gets extremely irritated. To avoid irritation, the exposed skin region should immediately be washed with soap and water. An emollient should be used to cover the skin.
  • Eye exposure – In case of contact with the eyes, immediately wash them with clear, cool or warm water for a minimum period of 15 minutes. Do not use too hot or cold water. If you begin experiencing irritation in the eyes, seek medical attention as soon as you can.
  • Inhalation – On accidental inhalation of this substance, you should immediately move to a fresh, airy place. In case of breathing difficulties, oxygen should be provided. If a person is not found to be breathing, artificial respiration should be used to help him or her resume normal respiration.
  • Ingestion – If a person ingests this compound in large quantities, a physician should immediately be called. The garment accessories of the sufferer, such as tie, belt, waistband or collar, should be loosened.

Fire Safety Data

This is a non-inflammable material.

Safety Measures for Accidental Release

In case of an accidental spilling, the spilled substance should be transferred to a waste disposal container. Water should be generously spread over a contaminated surface and clean out all traces of the spillage. In case of a large solid spillage, the material should be shoveled into a convenient waste disposal box. The remaining particles should be thoroughly washed, cleared off the contaminated surface and evacuated through a sanitary system.

Storage Precautions

The material should be stored in container with its lid tightly shut. The container must be keep in a cool, well-ventilated region.

Personal safety measures

To avoid health hazards from exposure to this substance, individuals handling it should use the following gear:

  • Safety glasses/Splash goggles
  • Dust Respirator
  • Lab coat/Full Suit
  • Gloves
  • Boots

Barium Sulfate Properties

Some of the salient physical and chemical properties of this substance are as follows:

  • The molecular weight of this material is 233.39 g/mole.
  • It is solid in physical state and appearance.
  • It has a specific gravity of 4.5.
  • This is a stable product and non-corrosive in the presence of glass.
  • The substance has a melting point of 1580 °C.
  • It has a boiling point (point of decomposition) of 1600 °C.

Barium Sulfate Solubility

Is Barium Sulfate Soluble in Water? The answer is yes. The compound is very mildly soluble in water. Its solubility is 0.0002448 g per 100 mL (20 °C).

Molar Mass of Barium Sulfate

Barium Sulfate has a molar mass of 233.43 g/mol.

Barium Sulfate Ingredients

The main ingredients of this compound are

  • Clay – 1% – 5%
  • Quartz – 0.1% – 3%
  • Calcite – 1% – 5%

What Is Barium Sulfate Used For?

Some of the main uses of Barium Sulfate Uses are in


The substance is used in the production of

  • Artificial ivory
  • Photographic papers
  • Oil cloth
  • Polymeric fibers
  • Cellophane
  • Filler for rubber
  • Paper
  • Lithographic inks
  • Resins
  • Linoleum
  • Water-color pigment, for use in colored paper in wallpaper
  • For radiation shield in heavy concrete


It may also be used as a size for modifying the colors in other pigments. It is also used to coat moulds used in metal casting so as to prevent bonding of the molten metal with the mould.

In soil pH test

Barium sulfate is also used during this test to separate out any particle (generally clay particles) that may make it difficult to see the color of the pH indicator and make the test difficult.

Other Uses of Barium sulfate

The substance is also used in

  • Root canal filling
  • Episal salt
  • Anacoustic foams
  • Brake linings
  • Powder coatings

The material is also used in Colorimetry as an almost perfect diffuser during measurement of light sources. It is also used as filler in different products, such as rubber.

Barium sulfate (the mineral barite, BaSO4) is important to the petroleum industry, for example, as drilling mud, a weighting agent in drilling new oil wells. Taking advantage of its opacity to X-rays, the sulfate is used as a radiocontrast agent for X-ray imaging of the digestive system (“barium meals” and “barium enemas”). Lithopone, a pigment that contains barium sulfate and zinc sulfide, is a permanent white that has good covering power, and does not darken when exposed to sulfides.

As medicine

The compound is available as a suspension (liquid), a tablet, a paste and also as a powder that can be mixed with water. The suspension, water mixture and powder can be taken in orally or used as an enema (liquid infused into the rectum). The compound is generally once or multiple times before a CT scan or an X-Ray examination.

Barium Chloride and Sodium Sulfate

Barium chloride (BaCl2) reacts with Sodium Sulfate (Na2SO4) to produce a salt (Barium Sulfate) and an aqueous Sodium Chloride. The molecular equation of this reaction is given as:

BaCl2(aqueous) + Na2SO4(aqueous) → BaSO4(salt) + 2NaCl(aqueous).

Ammonium Sulfate and Barium Nitrate

The balanced molecular equation of Barium Nitrate and Ammonium Sulfate is given as:

Ba(NO3)2(aqueous) + (NH4)2SO4(aqueous) → 2NH4NO3(aqueous) + BaSO4(salt).

Barium Sulfate Side Effects

Some of the main side effects of Barium Sulfate are

  • Ringing sensation in the ears
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Paleness of skin
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramps

Some of the more severe signs of this disorder include discomforts like

  • Mental confusion
  • Itchiness
  • Hives
  • Hoarse voice
  • Redness of skin
  • Tightness or inflammation of the throat
  • Bluish skin color
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Difficulties in respiration or swallowing
  • Agitation

This compound may also produce acute chronic discomforts including damage to vital internal organs like mucus membranes and lungs.

In case of a serious side effect, you should seek medical assistance immediately. You, or your healthcare provider, may also call 1-800-332-1088 and report the problem. The problem can also be reported to the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting online program at


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