What is Nitrate? What are Nitrate Features and Usage Areas?

What is Nitrate? What are Nitrate Features and Usage Areas?

A chemical expression, nitrate is the salt of nitric acid. Nitrate, which is soluble in water, is generally used in agriculture, fertilization and preservation of some foods. We have prepared an article for you that will allow you to understand the nitrate issue more deeply.

Nitrate salts naturally occur in large sediments on the earth, especially nitrate is an important source of nitrate. Nitrates are produced by several species of nitrifying bacteria. In the absence of natural sources of nitrate, artificial nitrate has been produced using various fermentation methods that take urine and manure as raw materials.

Nitrate is most commonly found in man-made fertilizers. In a nitrogen-rich atmosphere layer, nitric acid is produced when nitrogen dioxide, a byproduct of lightning strikes, reacts with water vapor. Almost all inorganic nitrate salts are soluble in water at standard temperature and pressure. An example of an inorganic nitrate salt is potassium nitrate.

What is Potassium Nitrate?

Potassium Nitrate is a type of fertilizer that carries two important nutrients for plants and increases yield and quality. It contains approximately nitrogen (N) and 46% potassium (K2O), which is preferred for plants. All the nitrogen it contains is in the form of nitrate (NO3) and can be taken up by plants immediately. Since nitrate (–) is electrically charged, it also encourages the intake of some other nutrients (K+, Ca++, Mg++). In addition, it is the best mix fertilizer for the preparation of liquid fertilizers with the blending of fertilizers.

The main source of nitrate in the human body comes from green leafy foods such as spinach. NO3- (inorganic nitrate) are active ingredients found in beet juice and other vegetables. Nitrate, which is used in many agricultural products, is generally in the market; available as ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, and sodium nitrate.


What is Nitrate?

Nitrates, which are salts of nitric acid, are inorganic, chemical substances with high solubility in water. Nitrate is a polyatomic ion with the molecular formula NO3-. The molecular mass was calculated as 62.0049 g/mol. Nitrates also describe the organic functional group RONO2. These nitrate esters are a special class of explosives. The anion is the conjugate base of nitric acid and consists of a central nitrogen atom surrounded by three identically bonded oxygen atoms in a trigonal planar context. The nitrate ion carries a -1 formal charge.

This indicates that each of the three oxygens carries a charge of -2/3, whereas nitrogen carries a charge of +1, and they all combine up to the formal charge of the polyatomic nitrate ion. This arrangement is often used as an example of resonance. Like the isoelectronic carbonate ion, the nitrate ion can be represented by resonance structures. According to the compounds of nitrate; There are varieties such as sodium nitrate, silver nitrate, ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, urea nitrate and nitrate acid.

What Are the Properties of Nitrate?

For a healthy person, it is normal for the daily nitrate intake level to vary between 75-100 mg. In people who consume vegetables constantly, this amount can increase to 250 mg per day. In such cases, it is necessary to avoid one-way foods in the nutrition system in order to balance the amount of nitrate in the body. The nitrate level obtained from deep spring waters varies. When the nitrate amount in the liter of surface springs is compared with the nitrate amount in the well waters, it is seen that the surface waters contain 80% less nitrate. This is an extremely large ratio and it would be beneficial to consume water according to nitrate intake.


SEE ALSO: What is Yttrium? History, Features

What are the Uses of Nitrate?

Nitrates are mainly produced for use as fertilizers in agriculture due to their high solubility and biodegradability. The main nitrate fertilizers; salts of ammonium, sodium, potassium and calcium. Several million kilograms of nitrate are produced annually for the sole purpose of fertilizer. A second important application of nitrates is their use as an oxidizing agent, especially in explosives where rapid oxidation of carbon compounds releases large volumes of gases. Sodium nitrate is used to remove air bubbles from molten glass and some ceramics. Mixtures of molten salt are used to harden some metals. Explosives and table tennis balls are made from celluloid.

Although nitrates are mainly nitrogen compounds used in meat curing, they are also used in certain remediation processes. The preferred use of nitrate in food preservation, that is, for food preservation, is controversial. This method of preservation is due to the potential for formation of nitrosamines (nitrosamines) when nitrate is present in high concentrations and the cooking of the product at high temperatures. The effect is seen for red meat or processed meat, but not for white meat or fish. Nitrate combines with myoglobin in meat products and maintains the red color.

What Are the Benefits of Nitrate?

dietary nitrate; It is found in cured meats, various leafy vegetables and drinking water. Nitrate consumption is primarily determined by the amount of processed meat eaten and the nitrate concentration ratio in these meats. Nitrite and water turn into nitric oxide in the body and can lower hypertension. Antihypertensive diets, such as the DASH diet, typically contain high nitrate levels, which are first reduced to nitrite, the amount of saliva detected in a saliva test before they form nitric oxide. In other words, nitrate is used in the laboratory analysis of various health tests.

What are the Harms of Nitrate?

Nitrate toxicosis can occur through enterohepatic metabolism of nitrate. When nitrate turns into nitrite, it starts to cause harm to health. Toxicosis can be defined as a kind of toxin poisoning. If too much nitrate is taken into the body, it can cause stomach cancer. Nitrates cannot carry oxygen because they oxidize iron atoms in hemoglobin. This process can cause a general lack of oxygen in the organ tissue and a dangerous condition called methemoglobinemia. Although nitrate converts to ammonia, if there is too much nitrate to convert, an organism can slowly die from lack of oxygen.

Methemoglobinemia in infants is known as blue baby syndrome. Blue baby syndrome; It is the product of a number of factors, which may include any factor that causes gastric discomfort, such as diarrheal infection, protein intolerance, heavy metal toxicity, in which nitrates play a minor role. This disease can be seen if drinking water with high nitrates is consumed by babies.

Some adults may be more sensitive to nitrates than others. Some people with an inherited mutation of the methemoglobin reductase enzyme may be underproduced or absent. This enzyme deficiency results in increased circulating methemoglobin levels. People who secrete insufficient stomach acid (especially low meat eaters/vegetarians) are also at risk.


Nitrate and nitrite are undesirable compounds in foods due to their negative effects on human health. For this reason, there are legal regulations regarding the maximum nitrate and nitrite levels that can be found in foods both in our country and in other countries.

Nitrate and nitrite are naturally found in vegetables and water. It is added to cured meat products and cheese as an external preservative. Technological processes such as washing, boiling, sterilization, freezing applied to foods and storage time affect nitrate and nitrite amounts in different ways. In addition, the harvest time of plant foods, growing conditions (irrigation, soil, fertilizer use, etc.), the structure and type of the product affect the amount of nitrate and nitrite. Curing is a process that has been applied to meats for many years to increase the shelf life of products. Nitrate and nitrite, which are curing agents, prevent microbial growth in products and provide the desired color and flavor in the product. Nitrate and nitrite levels in water are important indicators of water quality. Nitrates inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium species; For this reason, nitrate should not be added to milk in Emmental and similar cheeses, which use such bacteria in their production. If nitrate is to be used in the production of other cheeses, the amount to be added should never be more than “200 mg/l milk” and the cheese must be ripened. It is important to determine nitrate and nitrite in foods, both in raw materials and in processed products.

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