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Sulfate is a common polyatomic anion with the formula SO42-. Sulfates are the salts of sulfuric acid.
Sulfate consists of one sulfur atom in the +6 oxidation state bonded to four oxygen atoms in the -2 oxdation state. Polyatomic ions like manganate, chromate, selenate, molybdate, and tungstate follow this same pattern, with metal ions replacing sulfur.
Sulfate salts of metals can usually be prepared by adding sulfuric acid to a metal, or its hydroxide, oxide, or carbonate. The reaction with a halogen salt will result in a sulfate salt of the said metal and its corresponding halogen acid. If the sulfuric acid is incompletely neutralized, bisulfate salts will form.
Sulfates can also be prepared by oxidation of metal sulfides or sulfites, the latter being made by passing sulfur dioxide through an alkali solution. Oxidation can be done quickly by using a strong oxidizer like hydrogen peroxide, or slowly, by leaving the sulfite in open air for several days.