sodium nitrate

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nitrate, chemical compound containing the nitrate (NO3) radical. Nitrates are salts or esters of nitric acid, HNO3, formed by replacing the hydrogen with a metal (e.g., sodium or potassium) or a radical (e.g., ammonium or ethyl). Some important inorganic nitrates are potassium nitrate (KNO3), sodium nitrate (NaNO3), silver nitrate (AgNO3), and ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3). Calcium nitrate is used in fertilizers; barium and strontium nitrates are used to color fireworks and signal flares; bismuth nitrate is used in making pharmaceuticals. Saltpeter (potassium nitrate), a diuretic, was once believed to be an anaphrodesiac. Nearly all metal nitrates are readily soluble in water; for this reason they are often used when a water soluble salt of a metal is needed. The presence of nitrates in the soil is of great importance, since it is from these compounds that plants obtain the nitrogen necessary for their growth. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are important in keeping the soil supplied with nitrates. Because of the widespread use of artificial fertilizers containing nitrates, nitrates have contaminated both ground and surface waters in some agricultural areas. Organic nitrates are esters formed by reaction of nitric acid with the hydroxyl (-OH) group in an alcohol. Nitroglycerin is the trinitrate of glycerol; guncotton is a nitrate of cellulose. In chemical analysis, a test for nitrates involves the addition of a solution of ferrous sulfate to the substance to be tested, followed by the addition (without mixing) of a few drops of concentrated sulfuric acid; the presence of a nitrate is indicated by the formation of a brown ring—of Fe(NO)+2 complex ion—where the sulfuric acid contacts the test mixture.

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ni·trate / ˈnītrāt/ • n. Chem. a salt or ester of nitric acid, containing the anion NO3 or the group –NO3. ∎  sodium nitrate, potassium nitrate, or ammonium nitrate, used as fertilizer: the fertilizer is usually a basic nitrate. • v. [tr.] treat (a substance) with nitric acid (typically a concentrated mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids), esp. so as to introduce nitro groups. DERIVATIVES: ni·tra·tion / nīˈtrāshən/ n.

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sodium nitrate, chemical compound, NaNO3, a colorless, odorless crystalline compound that closely resembles potassium nitrate (saltpeter or niter) in appearance and chemical properties. It is soluble in water, alcohol, and liquid ammonia. Sodium nitrate is also called soda niter or Chile saltpeter. It is found naturally in large deposits in arid regions of Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia as caliche, a crude, impure nitrate rock or gravel. Natural deposits are the major source of sodium nitrate; it is also obtained in small amounts as a byproduct of chlorine production by the nitrosyl chloride process, in which sodium chloride (common salt) is reacted with nitric acid. Sodium nitrate is used in making potassium nitrate, fertilizers, and explosives. It was formerly an important raw material for the production of nitric acid.

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nitrate Salt of nitric acid. Nitrate salts contain the nitrate ion (NO3) and some are important, naturally occurring compounds such as saltpetre (potassium nitrate, KNO3) and Chile saltpetre (sodium nitrate, NaNO3). Nitrates are used as food preservers, fertilizers, explosives, and as a source of nitric acid. They can be an environmental hazard.

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nitrate A salt or ester of nitric acid. The salts contain the ion NO3.