Nitric Acid, or HNO3 or Hydrogen nitrate, is a strong acid because it gives off the hydronium ion as its only positive ion. It is a very important laboratory reagent because it serves many functions including the manufacture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate,(both of which are salts, fertilizers, preservatives, and strong oxidizers). When nitric acid is mixed with sulfuric acid, it gives off the nitrite ion, or NO2-1 which can be used to create explosives such as trinitrotoluene (tnt) and nitroglycerin (dynamite). It is also used in the synthesis of guncotton, also known as nitrocellulose or cellulose nitrate, which is a prime component in smokeless gunpowder.


Nitric Acid is dangerous, especially when found in concentrations above 50%, because it gives off fumes, hence the name fuming nitric acid, that can cause nausea, irritation to lungs and eyes, and after prolonged exposure, permanent damage. If you find yourself with nitric acid that has come in contact with your skin, rinse thoroughly with water and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) , commonly called baking soda. Do not mix nitric acid with any organic substance (anything from sugar to gasoline) because it can cause an explosion, which is usually a bad thing. If you have nitric acid and would like to store it, keep it in a sealed glass container away from people and animals, because no matter what you do, fumes will escape. If there is a fire, nitric acid will accelerate it because it itself is a strong oxidizer. Keep away from direct sunlight because the acid will decompose causing nitrogen oxides which turn the acid a red color.

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