What Products Have Potassium Nitrate?

What Products Have Potassium Nitrate
••• artisteer/iStock/GettyImages

Potassium nitrate is a colorless, crystalline potassium salt of nitric acid. The molecular formula KNO3 represents potassium nitrate. Synonyms for this compound salt include saltpeter, vicknite and potassium salt. Potassium nitrate was historically harvested from cave wall deposits of accumulated bat guano. A generally safe salt, it does show some toxicity at moderate doses, and it irritates the nose and throat. Potassium nitrate does not represent a toxic threat to the environment. While not explosive by itself, potassium nitrate can react violently with certain agents. For centuries, it comprised a top ingredient for gunpowder and fireworks. Modern uses for potassium nitrate include numerous products for households, agriculture and industry.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Potassium nitrate is a crystalline potassium salt of nitric acid. Many products use potassium nitrate in homes, agriculture and industry. Some examples include toothpaste, fertilizers, fireworks, pesticides and molten salt for solar power plants.

Household Products

In the modern home, potassium nitrate is used as an ingredient in common, everyday products. Both sensitivity toothpaste and tooth whitening products contain potassium nitrate. The salt can also be found in makeup primer. Various fertilizers, potting mixes and plant foods used in landscaping feature potassium nitrate, and stump removers also contain the salt. Some gas cartridge fumigant pesticides contain potassium nitrate.

Agricultural Products

A number of agricultural products use potassium nitrate as a component. Pyrotechnic fumigants to control rodents, insects and other pests contain potassium nitrate. These cartridges produce pest-killing gases in burrows to control wasps, skunks, coyotes and other animals that affect farms and crops. Due to its occurrence in nature, potassium nitrate typically does not cause negative environmental effects. Its chief risk as a burrow fumigant would be to animals such as burrowing owls that might inhabit the same burrows as pests. Potassium nitrate can also be found in many fertilizers used in agriculture.

Industrial Products

Various industries rely upon potassium nitrate as an ingredient or otherwise helpful substance. Its use as a food preservative dates to the Middle Ages. Fireworks, gunpowder, matches and blasting powders represent incendiary products containing this salt. Rocket fuel may also contain potassium nitrate. The salt proves useful in tempering steel and manufacturing glass. Potassium nitrate also features in dental research, and the chemical industry relies upon potassium nitrate for temperature maintenance around reactors, as well as for making other chemicals. Potassium nitrate also serves the renewable energy sector as a major ingredient in “Solar Salt,” a molten salt used as heat storage in solar power plants. Stored heat is further used to generate steam for electricity production. This molten salt mixture provides sensible heat storage due to its high thermal stability, low cost and low vapor pressure.

Related Articles

Transition Metals & Their Uses
Facts About Calcium Chloride
Uses of Zinc Carbonate
Natural Places to Find Saltpeter
What Is Magnesium Carbonate?
Commercial Uses of Sodium Polyacrylate
How to Make Magnesium Chloride
What Are Some Natural Sources of Potassium Nitrate?
How to Make Calcium Carbide
Uses for Potassium Perchlorate
The Properties of Nitrocellulose
What Are the Uses of Carbon Dioxide Gas?
Hazards of Copper Sulfate
What Is Propylene Glycol
What Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
Things That Contain Potassium Nitrate
The Disadvantages of Steel Structures
How to Use Powdered Alum to Purify Water
The Eight Most Abundant Elements in the Earth's Crust
What Is the Chemical Formula of Bleach?