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SODIUM NITRATE

Sodium Nitrate

Chemical Formula: NaNO3

HS Code: 31025000

Other Names: Peru saltpeter, Soda niter, cubic niter

Description

Sodium nitrate is the chemical compound with the formula NaNO3. This alkali metal nitrate salt is also known as Chile saltpeter (because large deposits of this salt can be found in Chile) to distinguish it from ordinary saltpeter, potassium nitrate. The mineral form is also known as nitratine, nitratite or soda niter.

Sodium nitrate is a white solid very soluble in water. It is a readily available source of the nitrate anion (NO3−), which is useful in several reactions carried out on industrial scales for the production of fertilizers, pyrotechnics and smoke bombs, glass and pottery enamels, food preservatives (esp. meats), and solid rocket propellant. It has been mined extensively for these purposes.

Properties

Formula: NaNO3
Molar mass: 84.9947 g/mol
Melting point: 308 °C
Density: 2.26 g/cm³
Boiling point: 380 °C
Density: 2.26

Uses

Sodium nitrate can be combined with sulfuric acid and nitric acid distilled off. At lower pressure the lower temperature needed results in less decomposition. The theoretical 2 moles of nitric acid per 1 mole of sulfuric acid results in a very high end temperature, much decomposition and a solid neutral sulfate that is difficult to remove. When this reaction was important industrially, it was common practice to operate with sulfuric acid in excess to end on a mostly bisulfate product poured molten out of the retort.

Hobbyist gold refiners use sodium nitrate to make a hybrid aqua regia that dissolves gold and other metals.

Sodium nitrate is also a food additive used as a preservative and color fixative in cured meats and poultry; it is listed under its INS number 251 or E number E251. It is approved for use in the EU, USA and Australia and New Zealand. Sodium nitrate should not be confused with sodium nitrite, which is also a common food additive and preservative used, for example, in deli meats.

Less common applications include as an oxidizer in fireworks, replacing potassium nitrate commonly found in black powder, and as a component in instant cold packs.

It is also used in the wastewater industry for facultative microorganism respiration. Nitrosomonas, a genus of microorganisms, consumes nitrate in preference to oxygen, enabling it to grow more rapidly in the wastewater to be treated.

Sodium nitrate is also sometimes used by marine aquarists who utilize carbon-dosing techniques. It is used to increase nitrate levels in the water and promote bacterial growth.

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