10 Differences Between double salt and complex salt

The Difference Between Double Salt and Complex Salt

When it comes to salts, there are various types available, each with its own unique characteristics and uses. In this article, we will explore the differences between double salt and complex salt, including their definitions, examples, uses, and a comprehensive table outlining their dissimilarities.

What Are Double Salts?

Double salts, as the name suggests, are compounds that result from the combination of two different salts in a definite ratio. These salts are chemically bonded but can be easily separated into their individual components. Double salts often exhibit different properties than their constituent salts and are commonly found in nature.

Examples of Double Salts:

  1. Alum: A well-known example of a double salt is alum (potassium aluminum sulfate), which consists of potassium sulfate and aluminum sulfate.
  2. Carnallite: Another example is carnallite (potassium magnesium chloride hexahydrate), composed of potassium chloride and magnesium chloride.
  3. Mohr’s Salt: Mohr’s salt (ammonium iron sulfate) is a double salt formed by the combination of ammonium sulfate and iron(II) sulfate.

Uses of Double Salts:

Double salts have several applications in various industries:

  1. Alum is used in the manufacturing of paper, water purification, and as a mordant in dyeing fabrics.
  2. Carnallite is an important source of potassium fertilizers for agricultural purposes.
  3. Mohr’s salt is used in analytical chemistry for standardizing solutions.

What Are Complex Salts?

Complex salts, on the other hand, are compounds formed through the combination of a metal ion with one or more complex ions or ligands. These salts are characterized by their complex structures and the presence of coordinating bonds between the metal ion and the ligands. Complex salts are often highly colored and have diverse applications.

Examples of Complex Salts:

  1. Potassium Hexacyanoferrate(II): This complex salt is also known as potassium ferrocyanide and consists of the metal ion potassium combined with the ligand hexacyanoferrate(II).
  2. Ammonium Tetrachlorocuprate(II): Ammonium tetrachlorocuprate(II) is a complex salt formed by the coordination of ammonium with tetrachlorocuprate(II).
  3. Sodium Nitroprusside: Sodium nitroprusside serves as an example of a complex salt with the ligand nitroprusside coordinated to a sodium ion.

Uses of Complex Salts:

Complex salts have various practical uses:

  1. Potassium ferrocyanide is utilized in photography, electroplating, and as a pigment in blue printing.
  2. Ammonium tetrachlorocuprate(II) is employed in organic synthesis and as a catalyst for chemical reactions.
  3. Sodium nitroprusside finds applications in medicine as a vasodilator and in analytical chemistry for detecting the presence of sulfides.

Differences between Double Salt and Complex Salt

Difference Area Double Salt Complex Salt
Formation Formed by combining two salts in a definite ratio Result of metal ion combining with complex ions or ligands
Separability Easily separated into individual salt components Not easily separated due to the presence of coordinating bonds
Chemical Bonding Chemically bonded salts Coordinating bonds between metal ion and ligands
Appearance Usually crystalline Can be crystalline or amorphous
Color Colorless or less vibrant Often highly colored
Occurrence in Nature Commonly found in nature Less frequently found in nature
Complexity Less complex in structure More complex in structure
Uses Water treatment, paper manufacturing, fertilizers Photography, electroplating, organic synthesis
Solubility May have different solubilities compared to constituent salts Solubility influenced by the ligands and metal ion
Stability Relatively stable compounds May exhibit greater stability or reactivity, depending on ligands


In summary, double salts are formed by the combination of two salts and can be easily separated into their individual components, while complex salts result from the coordination of a metal ion with complex ions or ligands and are not easily separable. Double salts are commonly found in nature and have various uses in industries like water treatment and fertilizers. On the other hand, complex salts typically exhibit vibrant colors, have complex structures, and are used in fields such as photography and organic synthesis.

People Also Ask:

  1. What distinguishes a double salt from a complex salt?
    Double salts are formed by combining two salts, whereas complex salts result from the coordination of a metal ion with complex ions or ligands.
  2. Can double salts be easily separated into their constituent salts?
    Yes, double salts can be easily separated into their individual components.
  3. Are complex salts naturally occurring?
    While complex salts can exist in nature, they are less frequently found compared to double salts.
  4. What are the uses of double salts?
    Double salts find applications in water treatment, paper manufacturing, and as fertilizers.
  5. How do complex salts differ in appearance from double salts?
    Complex salts can exhibit vibrant colors, while double salts are often colorless or less vibrant.

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