Potassium Nitrate - Research Article from Chemical Compounds

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Potassium Nitrate

Overview

Potassium nitrate (poe-TAS-ee-yum NYE-trate) is transparent, colorless, or white, and may be crystalline or powdery solid. It is odorless with a sharp, cool, salty taste. It is slightly hygroscopic, that is, having a tendency to absorb moisture from the air. Potassium nitrate, more commonly known as saltpeter or niter, has been used by humans for many centuries. Going back as far as ancient Chinese civilizations, the compound was used as an ingredient in fireworks, to preserve foods, to make incense burn more evenly, to increase the male sex drive, and for magic potions.

How It Is Made

Potassium nitrate is made commercially by reacting potassium chloride (KCl) with nitric acid (HNO3) at high temperatures: 3KCl + 4HNO3 → 3KNO3 + Cl2 + NOCl + 2H2O.

Key Facts

Other Names:

Niter; saltpeter; nitrate of potash

Formula:

KNO3

Elements:

Potassium, nitrogen, oxygen

Compound Type:

Salt (inorganic)

State:

Solid

Molecular Weight:

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This section contains 758 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Potassium Nitrate Encyclopedia Article
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Chemical Compounds
Potassium Nitrate from Chemical Compounds. ©2008 by U•X•L. U•X•L is an imprint of Thomson Gale, a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. All rights reserved.
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