Talk:Sodium nitrate

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It is still being mined in Chile and in Argentina. jj My can of SPAM lists sodium nitrite as an ingredient, not sodium nitrate. Can someone with more chemistry background clarify the reference to SPAM in this article? Thanks. Samw 01:53 30 Jun 2003 (UTC)

OK, thanks for removing the SPAM reference. Samw 17:57, 2 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Why is there a picture of sodium nitrite on this page?

health problems[edit]

I've read that this substance is known to cause cancers, etc. Is there enough info/consensus on that to include it as at least a possiblility?

Have a look at this link about sodium nitrate claiming it does cause cancer. Apparently they tried to ban it in the 70's but to no avail.

That link doesn't look too reputable. Looks like product spam and outlandish claims to me. Besides, (and once again, it's listed right above this entry) you're talking about sodium nitrite, not sodium nitrate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:48, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Speaking of "not too reputable," the "Oh it's healthy, dont' worry about it!" section that follows was almost completely citation free, so I axed it. If you want it back in, cite your sources. (talk) 23:50, 19 June 2012 (UTC) Ubiquitousnewt "The studies indicating a link between dietary ingestion of nitrates and nitrites were conducted using extremely high doses in lab rats(No cite). These levels are impossible to attain in the human diet(No cite). Now it is thought that the carcinogenic risk is inconclusive at best (No cite). In their recent (2011) book, Bryan and Loscalzo (Nitrates and Nitrites in Human Health and Disease) quote Powlson (2008)(No cite), et al. and Ward, et al.(No cite) that there is " consistent relationship...between nitrate/nitrite exposure and risk of cancer and other adverse health consequences", and that "formation of N-Nitroso compounds are independent of nitrate/nitrite dietary intake"(No cite). The presence of antioxidants in the diet, for example from intake of fruits and vegetables, effectively neutralizes the risk of nitrosamine "(No cite)

Although nitrites remain, sodium nitrate seems all but gone from commercial hot dogs in the U.S.. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:CF99:2080:6CA6:BD6E:14B3:EF3 (talk) 19:38, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

This section has multiple problems. There are conflicting statements. "Studies have shown a link between increased levels of nitrates and increased deaths from certain diseases..." and "...have been linked to gastric cancer and oesophageal cancer." conflict with " studies have conclusively linked nitrates and nitrites to cancer or any other form of diseases." Also the last statement in the section refers to "such legal scrutiny" when no legal scrutiny was ever mentioned. (talk) 13:27, 8 April 2016 (UTC)


Just wondering about the references to it also being known as 'saltniggers' and 'salt penis'...? I can't find anything to corroborate these statements, and find them highly unlikely. Don Donald (talk) 12:32, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

With out references, I believe the edits witch have changed the name to be vandalism.R00m c (talk) 20:44, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

I removed this from the article as it should have been here:R00m c (talk) 20:44, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

The first paragraph of this article where it names sodium nitrate as salt peter is in error. Salt peter is potassium nitrate KNO3. The confusion comes from the use of the term Chile saltpeter for sodium nitrate. The two are not interchangable.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 08:08, January 2, 2008
Do you have any references of this being the cases? The article of Potassium nitrate indicates as your say, however it is unreferenced as well.R00m c (talk) 20:44, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Sexual Inhibitions[edit]

My grandfather told me that during WWII (he was stationed in Alaska) the Army put Saltpeter into the food in order to reduce the libido of the troops. I looked at the article for a confirmation of this use and it doesn't mention anything about that potential side effect. Saltpeter can also refer to potassium nitrate, which specifically says that's nonesense. 21:24, 23 July 2006 (UTC)


sodium nitrates, according to many migraine drug companies and migraine prevention websites, have been found to cause migraines. These sources also say this chemical can be found in deli meats cheese and therefore pizza.

  • Unless you have any real source, I wouldn't believe this for a second. People make all kinds of spurious correlations without any real data, and this is made especially more difficult to believe when the nitrate anion (NO3-) is present in most vegetables as well. Migraines are a poorly understood phenomena and without proper study (meaning, real sources) this is nothing more than anecdotal fluff. Ψαμαθος 10:26, 16 August 2007 (UTC)


Isn't NaNO3 used as fertilizer? If you can confirm, please add to applications. ike9898 19:26, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

As Potasium is a needed by plants and the sodium concentration is high enough in the soil Potasium nitrat is prefered in fertilizer. But most of the fertilizers only give the amount of Sodium oxide and Potasium oxide and the abount of available nitrogen, and with this numbers to determin which atoms form a crystal and which not is nearly impossible without x-ray crystalography.--Stone 21:07, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

^^Yes, NaNO3 can be used a fertilizer. I purchased some as such recently, but as far as nitrogen to weight ratio is concerned, it is a terrible choice. Ammonium nitrate or urea are generally used as nitrogen sources. If it is a mixed fertilizer, good luck figuring out what ingredients are present. Dormroomchemist 06:02, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Pure Sodium and Potassium Nitrate are illegal in us is it not? -Danny Abbott

^^No, not at all. You can still buy it very rarely in pharmacies (I found it with salt substitutes once) as some old fashioned remedy. I've purchased both locally, and completely legally. Dormroomchemist 06:02, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Phase Change Material[edit]

Evaluation of regenerative phase change drywalls: low-energy buildings application K. Darkwa, International Journal of Energy Research Volume 23, Issue 14 , Pages 1205 - 1212--Stone 14:50, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Carcinogenic Potential[edit]

The substance Sodium Nitrate, and the related Sodium nitrite are not themselves carcinogenic; they are in fact antioxidants, like a few of the vitamins. However, when foods containing them are cooked at very high temperatures, compounds called nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic, are formed. (That page linked to above is nothing but an inflammatory advertisement for a book, and also strangely doesn't even mention nitrate or -ite.) Now the problem I am having is that this is rather off-topic, so I don't really want to add it to the article, along with the citation I have (below, and the same as the one at Curing (food preservation)), but misinformation of the form "NaNO3 causes cancer" keeps cropping up. Does anyone have any advice here? Should I just put the off-topic stuff on to prevent the bad stuff?

  • National Academy of Sciences - National Research Council Academy of Life Sciences. "The Health Effects of Nitrate, Nitrite and N-Nitroso Compounds". Washington DC: National Academy Press, 1981.

Josh Caswell 06:57, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I have added a section Food safety issues. It cites two world class authorities. I could have cited more if I'd had time. I have attempted to present it in a non-controversial way in accordance with WP policy. I hope this will answer the need for such a section here (it was what I came looking for, found nothing, so had to write it myself!) and so satisfy the need of some for non-encyclopedic and emotional thrashing such as "(I entered my two cents and expressed my heartbreaking loss of faith in wikipedia.)"[1] Trev M (talk) 01:21, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

I find evidence of nitrite causing nitrosamines, but little to nothing for nitrates. Seeing that on this page is a flag for me... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:32, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

The acronym NOC is introduced in the Health Concerns section but never defined as far as I can see. Matt2h (talk) 05:38, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

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I added a sentence about an event in 1825. I think it is important to understand when in history Chile saltpeter was important. The sentence about 1825 has a source, but there are several problems with this source. I hope somebody can replace it with more reliable sources and more information. --LA2 (talk) 14:08, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

I would like to add new data on the health effects of dietary inorganic nitrate that have emerged over the past 15 years. It is now clear that nitrate can be metabolized in our bodies to form the highly bioactive messenger nitric oxide (NO). NO is normally generated endogenously and plays an important role in physiological regulation of blood pressure, immunity and more. Green leafy vegetables contain considerable amounts of nitrate which is metabolized in vivo to form nitrite and the NO. Ingestion of inorganic nitrate lowers blood pressure, inhibits platelet aggregation and protects against tissue damage caused by ischemia (low oxygen). In animal models administration of nitrate or nitrite protect against heart attack and stroke. Thus, a new paradigm is emerging, suggesting overall beneficial effects of dietary nitrate as opposed to the detrimental health effects traditionally ascribed to this anion. Reference: Lundberg JO, Weitzberg E, Gladwin MT. The nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway in physiology and therapeutics. Nature Rev Drug Discov. 2008 Feb;7(2):156-67. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:39, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Nitric acid via Sodium Nitrite[edit]

Sodium nitrate must be first converted to nitrite to form nitric acid? Nonsense.

First of all, nitric acid can be easily distilled from a mixture of sodium nitrate and sulfuric acid in vacuum with no production of nitrogen oxides. Second, sulfuric acid is an excellent polar solvent and dissolves sodium nitrate forming free sodium and nitrate ions. Sulfuric acid is also an excellent source of protons (it is an acid after all), so in the mixture of sulfuric acid and sodium nitrate there is an equilibrium concentration of nitric acid, which is the least ionic of all the species present.

Distillation of sodium nitrate with sulfuric acid at one bar (atmospheric pressure) results in some thermal decomposition of nitric acid to form mixed nitrogen oxides and oxygen:

4 HNO3 → 4 NO2 + 2 H2O + O2
2 NO2 → 2 NO + O2

Due to the importance of the industrial synthesis of nitric acid, this system has been well studied and a considerable volume of literature exists about the mechanisms of the reactions. [1]

This section of the article does not properly represent the characteristics of an ionic solute dissolved in an ionizing solvent and needs to be cleaned up to bring the text more into agreement with what is actually happening in a complex chemical system.

In the absense of negative commentary, I will make these changes in mid-June 2016. Norm Reitzel (talk) 13:03, 28 May 2016 (UTC)

I've written the nitric acid via nitrite route out, there isn't doubt. I will notify the contributor. Ambix (talk) 19:51, 28 May 2016 (UTC)