or nitre also spelled saltpeter or niter

Transparent, colourless, or white powder or crystals of potassium nitrate (KNO3), found native in deposits.

It is a strong oxidizing agent (see oxidation-reduction), used in fireworks, explosives, matches, fertilizers, glassmaking, steel tempering, and food curing; as a reagent; and as an oxidizer in solid rocket propellants. The term is also used for sodium nitrate (Chile saltpetre) and calcium nitrate (lime saltpetre), both of which are used in the nitric acid industry and as fertilizers, and for ammonium nitrate (Norway saltpetre), a high explosive and fertilizer.

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also spelled  Saltpeter,  also called  Nitre, or Niter,  

      any of three naturally occurring nitrates, distinguished as (1) ordinary saltpetre, or potassium nitrate, KNO3; (2) Chile saltpetre, cubic nitre, or sodium nitrate, NaNO3; and (3) lime saltpetre, wall saltpetre, or calcium nitrate, Ca(NO3)2. These three nitrates generally occur as efflorescences caused by the oxidation of nitrogenous matter in the presence of the alkalis and alkaline earths.

Ordinary saltpetre.
      Potassium nitrate occurs as crusts on the surface of the Earth, on walls and rocks, and in caves; and it forms in certain soils in Spain, Italy, Egypt, Iran, and India. The deposits in the great limestone caves of Kentucky, Virginia, and Indiana have probably been derived from the overlying soil and accumulated by percolating water. In former times, the demand for saltpetre as an ingredient of gunpowder led to the formation of saltpetre plantations, or nitriaries, which were common in France, Germany, and other countries; the natural conditions were simulated by exposing heaps of decaying organic matter mixed with alkalis (lime, etc.) to atmospheric action. Potassium nitrate was used at one time in many different diseased conditions, especially asthma; but now it is rarely used medicinally, except as a diuretic. Its alleged value as a drug for suppressing sexual desire is purely imaginary.

      Potassium nitrate is white in colour and soluble in water; it has a vitreous lustre and a cool and salty taste.

Chile saltpetre.
      Sodium nitrate occurs, under the same conditions as ordinary saltpetre, in deposits covering immense areas in South America, abounding especially in the regions of Tarapacá and Antofagasta in Chile. The chief applications of Chile saltpetre are in the nitric acid industry and particularly as a fertilizer.

Lime saltpetre.
      Calcium nitrate was once common as an efflorescence on the walls of stables; it is now manufactured from atmospheric nitrogen. Its chief applications are as a manure and in the nitric acid industry.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • saltpetre — (US saltpeter) ► NOUN ▪ potassium nitrate or (Chile saltpetre) sodium nitrate. ORIGIN Latin salpetra, probably representing sal petrae salt of rock …   English terms dictionary

  • saltpetre — chiefly British spelling of SALTPETER (Cf. saltpeter) (q.v.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • saltpetre — noun a) Potassium nitrate. b) Sodium nitrate. Syn: Chilean saltpeter, Chilean saltpetre, nitrate of potash, niter, nitre, potassium nitrate, caliche, Chile saltpeter, Chile saltpetre, soda niter, soda nitre, sodium nitrate …   Wiktionary

  • saltpetre, GB — kalio nitratas statusas T sritis chemija formulė KNO₃ atitikmenys: angl. Indian Saltpeter, US; Indian saltpetre, GB; nitre; potassium nitrate; saltpeter, US; saltpeter; saltpetre, GB rus. индийская селитра; калиевая селитра; калий азотнокислый;… …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • Saltpetre — Saltpeter Salt pe ter, Saltpetre Salt pe tre,, n. [F. salp[^e]tre, NL. sal petrae, literally, rock salt, or stone salt; so called because it exudes from rocks or walls. See {Salt}, and {Petrify}.] (Chem.) Potassium nitrate; niter; a white… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • saltpetre — [sɔ:lt pi:tə, sɒ ] (US saltpeter) noun potassium nitrate or (Chile saltpetre) sodium nitrate. Origin ME: from OFr. salpetre, from med. L. salpetra, prob. representing sal petrae salt of rock (i.e. found as an encrustation); the change in the… …   English new terms dictionary

  • saltpetre — /sɒltˈpitə / (say solt peetuh) noun 1. → potassium nitrate. 2. → Chile saltpetre. Also, US, saltpeter. {alteration (after salt) of Middle English salpetre, from Medieval Latin sal petrae salt of the rock} …  

  • saltpetre, GB — salietra statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Šarminio, šarminių žemių metalo ar amonio nitratas. atitikmenys: angl. saltpeter, US; saltpetre, GB rus. селитра …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • saltpetre — salietra statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Azoto trąšos, kurių azotas yra nitratų NO₃ pavidalo. Būna gamtinės (mineralai) ir dirbtinės – nitrato (azoto) rūgšties druskos. atitikmenys: angl. nitre; saltpetre vok. Salpeter, m… …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • saltpetre — salietra statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Nitratų klasės mineralas (nitronatritas, nitrokalitas ir kt.), naudojamas trąšoms, parakui gaminti. atitikmenys: angl. nitre; saltpetre vok. Salpeter, m rus. селитра, f …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

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