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calcium nitrate[′kal·se·əm ′nī‚trāt]
(also called nitrocalcite, lime saltpeter, Norge niter), Ca(NO3)2⋅4H2O, a salt; colorless crystals that dissolve in water of crystallization at 42.7°C. Calcium nitrate crystallizes into an anhydrous salt at temperatures above 51.1°C. Its density is 2.36 g/cm3. Because it is highly hygroscopic, it must be stored under moisture-free conditions. The solubility of anhydrous calcium nitrate is 127 g per 100 g H2O at 20°C. Calcium nitrate is obtained by treating limestone with weak nitric acid; it is also formed during the absorption of nitrogen oxide by milk of lime.
Calcium nitrate is used as a nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture and is produced in granulated form. Commercial products contain no less than 15.5 percent nitrogen; furthermore, 4-7 percent ammonium nitrate is added during production in order to reduce the hygroscopicity of the fertilizer; the moisture content should not exceed 15 percent. Calcium nitrate is applied to the soil for all crops but is most effective in acidic soils, particularly for topdressing of winter crops in the spring.