Sodium nitrate is a chemical compound that consists of sodium, nitrogen and oxygen with the chemical formula NaNO3. The largest quantities of naturally occurring sodium nitrate are found in Chile and Peru and this is why the compound is also called Chile saltpeter or Peru saltpeter. Other names for this compound are caliche, Nitratine, soda niter or cubic niter. It has a wide range of applications in many different industries.
Uses of sodium nitrate
- Sodium nitrate is used as a fertilizer because it contains available nitrogen which is essential for plant growth.
- It is also used in the production of chemically strengthened glass, which is stronger than regular glass as well as scratch and temperature resistant. It is also used for clarifying the glass used in high quality eyeglasses.
- Sodium nitrate is also a preservative used in the food and medical industry. It is commonly used in processed meat products and cheese to prevent the growth of bacteria.
- It is also used in many pesticides, because it chemically reacts with other substances to produce a toxic gas, for killing everything from insects to rodents and even larger mammals.
- It can also be combined with sulfuric acid to produce nitric acid.
- It is also used, together with potassium nitrate for heat transfer in solar power plants and heat storage.
- Sodium nitrate is also used in the treatment of wastewater to help the useful microorganisms from the nitrosomonas family to grow more rapidly.
- It is sometimes used in fireworks and as a replacement for potassium nitrate in black powder. It was once used extensively to create gunpowder, but this has been replaced by other ingredients.
- It is also an ingredient in some instant cold packs used for first aid and sporting injuries.