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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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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(inorganic chemistry)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Instructions for manufacturing niter and salt often ran side by side on the front page of the Atlanta Southern Confederacy during May and June 1862.
The syrup has something in it called niter, which would settle out at the bottom of the can, make your syrup cloudy, and maybe give it a bitter taste if not filtered out.
Saltpeter, which Frank produced from the crude niter which he also mined, was the principal ingredient in the manufacture of gunpowder: it was also one of three items in daily use on the frontier that could not be produced on the self-sufficient pioneer farm homestead (salt and lead were the others).
Its floorplate is finely engraved with an Alaskan moose in profile among elegant scroll, a theme which continues over the triggerguard and then circles a grizzly bust on the grip cap finished in niter blue.
In this table Niter indicates the outer iteration count and [_] denotes the integer part of a real number.
Finally he moved to Milan to take the post of Inspector at a niter factory, which left him time to inspect most of the important mineral occurrences in Lombardy.
Another thing is air niters. We had horrible forest fires here in California, and the air quality here was worse than in Beijing for about a month.
These meetings and the students who attended them were known by Commons as his "Friday Niters." Regarding his "Friday Niters," Commons states that "...
jaculator 16 13 1 Tetragnatha niters (Audouin, 1826) 1 17 1 Tetragnatha pallescen.s F.O.P.-Cambridge, 1903 1 1 -- Tetragnatha sp.1 11 9 1 Theridiidae Achaearanea bellula (Keyserling, 1891) -- -- 1 Achaearanea hirta (Taczanowski, 1873) -- -- 1 Anelosimus sp.