Skip to main content
Select Source:

nitric acid

nitric acid, chemical compound, HNO3, colorless, highly corrosive, poisonous liquid that gives off choking red or yellow fumes in moist air. It is miscible with water in all proportions. It forms an azeotrope (constant-boiling mixture) that has the composition 68% nitric acid and 32% water and that boils at 120.5°C. The nitric acid of commerce is typically a solution of 52% to 68% nitric acid in water. Solutions containing over 86% nitric acid are commonly called fuming nitric acid. White fuming nitric acid (WFNA) is similar to the anhydrous variety, and red fuming nitric acid (RFNA) has a reddish brown color from dissolved nitrogen oxides. When treated with hydrogen fluoride, both varieties form inhibited fuming nitric acid, which has increased corrosion resistance in metal tanks, e.g., when used as an oxidizer in liquid fuel rockets.

Nitric acid is a strong oxidizing agent. It ionizes readily in solution, forming a good conductor of electricity. It reacts with metals, oxides, and hydroxides, forming nitrate salts. Chief uses of nitric acid are in the preparation of fertilizers, e.g., ammonium nitrate, and explosives, e.g., nitroglycerin and trinitrotoluene (TNT). It is also used in the manufacture of chemicals, e.g., in making dyes, and in metallurgy, ore flotation, etching steel, photoengraving, and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. It is produced chiefly by oxidation of ammonia (the Ostwald process). Small amounts are produced by the treatment of sodium nitrate with sulfuric acid. Nitric acid was known to the alchemists as aqua fortis; the name is used in commerce for impure grades of it. Aqua regia is a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids. Niric acid is a component of acid rain.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"nitric acid." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"nitric acid." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nitric-acid

"nitric acid." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nitric-acid

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

nitric acid

nitric acid (ny-trik) n. a strong corrosive mineral acid, the concentrated form of which is capable of producing severe burns of the skin. Swallowing the acid leads to intense burning pain and ulceration of the mouth and throat. Treatment is by immediate administration of alkaline solutions. Formula: HNO3.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"nitric acid." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"nitric acid." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/nitric-acid

"nitric acid." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Retrieved April 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/nitric-acid

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

nitric acid

nitric acid (HNO3) Colourless liquid that is one of the strongest mineral acids. Nitric acid attacks most metals, resulting in the formation of nitrates, and is a strong oxidizing agent. It is used in the manufacture of agricultural chemicals, explosives, plastics, dyes and rocket propellants.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"nitric acid." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"nitric acid." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nitric-acid

"nitric acid." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved April 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nitric-acid

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

nitric acid

ni·tric ac·id • n. Chem. a colorless or pale yellow liquid acid, HNO3, that is corrosive and poisonous and has strong oxidizing properties, made in the laboratory by distilling nitrates with sulfuric acid.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"nitric acid." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"nitric acid." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/nitric-acid

"nitric acid." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved April 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/nitric-acid

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.