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see potassium nitratepotassium nitrate,
chemical compound, KNO3, occurring as colorless, prismatic crystals or as a white powder; it is found pure in nature as the mineral saltpeter, or niter. (The name saltpeter is also applied to sodium nitrate, although less frequently.
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any of-the nitrates (nitric acid salts) of alkali and earth metals and ammonium. In nature, niters are formed during the decomposition of various organic radicals upon the action of nitrifying bacteria. From the mid-14th century, the term “saltpeter” was applied to potassium nitrate (KNO3)—the main constituent of black gunpowder.

KNO3 was obtained from niter piles—agglomerates of manure mixed with limestone, marl, and building debris that were placed between layers of brushwood or hay. Decomposition of this mixture yielded ammonia, which, during nitrification (aided by bacteria), was converted first to nitrous and then to nitric acid. Interaction of the nitric acid with CaCo3 gave Ca(NO3)2, which was then leached with water. The addition of wood ash, composed mainly of K2CO3, induced the precipitation of CaCO3 and the formation of a KNO3 solution. This method was used until 1854, when the German chemist C. Nöllner began producing KNO3 with the reaction KCl + NaNo3 = KNO3 + NaCl in solution. The raw materials here were natural Chile saltpeter (NaNO3) and KC1, which was obtained from natural potassium salts. This method has gradually replaced the previous one. Niters are primarily used as nitrogenous fertilizers.



(inorganic chemistry)
References in periodicals archive ?
Common sulphur is apt to a certain redness when united with nitre, but this is inconstant and fugitive.
But Boccaccio's captive woman is not scoured with nitre or made shamefully bald as she is in Deuteronomy and in certain writings by Jerome.
They also found that the effects of food intake on blood volume were nitre severe when the meal was taken in a sitting position than those when the meal was taken in a supine position.
Somebody had squeezed the alcohol out of several cans of Sterno and added sugar, water and boiled-off spirits of nitre and called it wine.
Saltpetre or nitre was an important ingredient in gunpowder and fireworks.
Furthermore, paint making is shrouded in secrecy, harking back to medieval alchemists and their potions concocted from ordinary compounds and given arcane names: brimstone (sulfur), saltpetre or nitre (ordinary potassium nitrate used for centuries to make corned beef) as well as eye of newt and wing of bat.
John, the talented head of the Nitre and Mining Bureau, used his considerable energy and diplomatic skills to raise large voluntary contributions of food, but he acknowledged that he inherited a good organization and that Northrop's analysis of the situation was, as events confirmed, accurate.
If the Earth, not Jupiter, were the only planet, the center of mass would lie deep within the solar interior and the corresponding wobble would be a nitre 0.
He also, for the first time, made a major technological improvement on his furnace, converting it to the hot-blast method that prevailed in the North, and the Confederate Nitre and Mining Bureau even suggested he erect a modern rolling mill.
silver, lead and copper," slate with imbedded pyrite crystals, quartz crystals, pyritized fossils, pumice, agates, chalcedony, and crystals of melanterite, metallic sulfates and nitre.
As Horace Hovey noted, "The nitre fever of 1812 rivaled the subsequent gold fever of 1849.
The pins, screws, trigger, slide stop and safety lever are nitre blued while the remaining parts are charcoal blued.