The first process unit in an oil refinery is the desalter. Salts in crude are generally contained in residual water suspended in the oil phase. The chemical composition of these salts varies, but the major portion is nearly always sodium chloride with lesser amounts of calcium and magnesium chlorides. Crudes also contain impurities such as silt, iron oxides, sand and crystalline salt as mechanical suspensions. Removal of these contaminants is known as “desalting”.
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