Structure, Preparation, Properties and uses of Sodium nitrate

October 17, 2022 Sodium Nitrate

What is sodium nitrate?

Sodium nitrate is a chemical compound with the formula NaNO3. It is an alkali metal nitrate salt and is also known as Chile saltpeter.

This mineral is also known as nitratine, nitrate, or soda niter. Sodium nitrate is found in large deposits in Chile and is used to distinguish it from ordinary saltpeter and potassium nitrate.

Structure of sodium nitrate:

The nitrate anion has a trigonal planar structure in which three oxygen atoms are linked to a central nitrogen atom. Therefore, the nitrogen atom has a charge of +1, and each oxygen atom has a cost of -⅔. Thus, the net formal amount on NO3– is -1.

Preparation of sodium nitrate :

The industrial synthesis of sodium nitrate mainly occurs when nitric acid is neutralized with either sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, or sodium hydroxide.

Reactions are as follows :

  • NaHCO3 + HNO3 → NaNO3 + H2O + CO2
  • Na2CO3 + 2HNO3 → 2NaNO3 + CO2 + H2O
  • NaOH + HNO3 → NaNO3 + H2O

Properties of sodium nitrate :

1. Physical properties :

  • It is white.
  • It exists in two different crystal structures – rhombohedral and trigonal.
  • It has a sweet odor
  • It is highly soluble in water and ammonia

2. Chemical properties :

  • Sodium nitrate is a white, crystalline solid soluble in water.
  • When dissolved, sodium nitrate dissociates into Na+ and NO3– ions.
  • It is a potent oxidizing agent and reacts violently with reducing agents.
  • At high temperatures, it explosively decomposes.
  • It is non-combustible but increases the burning of combustible materials.

Uses of sodium nitrate:

  • Sodium nitrate is a water-soluble form of nitrogen primarily used in fertilizers.
  • It is prevalent to use in developing countries since it does not change the soil's pH level.
  • Another excellent use for sodium nitrate is in explosives, which work well with ammonium nitrate.
  • The thermal stability of molten sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate solutions is sound, up to 600 degrees Celsius. This makes it useful for metals that need to be heat-treated and for solar energy storage applications
  • Sodium nitrate, or NaNO3, is a food additive and preservative used as an oxidizer in fireworks and instant cold packs.
  • It is also a component of some solar power plants, which helps transfer and store heat.
  • In order to promote the growth of Nitrosomonas bacteria, this compound is added to the wastewater in several wastewater treatment plants.

Concerns regarding sodium nitrate :

1. A growing body of evidence suggests that eating processed meat increases your risk of colon cancer. Scientists believe this is due to the nitrate content in processed meat, which breaks down into nitrite in the body. Nitrite then reacts with protein-rich foods to produce nitroso compounds. Nitroso compounds can be formed either when meat is cured or in the body as meat is digested.

2. This has been suggested that there may be a link between increased levels of nitrates in the body and an increased risk of certain diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, stomach cancer, and Parkinson's disease.


Recently, the demand for Sodium nitrate has increased significantly due to its usage in various areas. Despite its concerns about excessive use, sodium nitrate is widely used as a potent preservative for foods, especially fish and meat, to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that cause spoiling. Meghachem is among the reputed manufacturers of Sodium Nitrate, which has a large manufacturing capacity to meet the rising customer demand. The need for sodium nitrate in the food business is anticipated to increase dramatically in the upcoming years, given that worldwide meat consumption is expected to explode due to ongoing population growth.

Frequently Asked Questions About Structure, Preparation, Properties & Uses of Sodium Nitrate:

Q1. What is sodium nitrate used for?

A. Sodium nitrate is a kind of salt used for food preservation for a long time. It produces a separate flavour, regulates the oxidation of lipids and acts as an antimicrobial.

Q2. Can sodium nitrate explode?

A. Not combustible, but substance is a strong oxidizer and its heat of reaction with reducing agents or combustibles may cause ignition. Explosion: Explosive with shock, heat or friction. Sodium Nitrate decomposes explosively when heated > 538C (1000F).Nov 17, 1999

Q3. Is nitrate harmful to fish?

A. Nitrate is not toxic to most freshwater fish, except in high levels, and can be reduced sufficiently through periodic water changes.

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