Nitric acid was originally called ‘aqua fortis’ in Latin which means strong water. Now you must be wondering how water can be strong. The answer is very simple. Nitric acid results in the corrosion of metals. It was first prepared by combining nitre and sulphuric acid and was therefore termed as ‘nitric acid’.
We all know that a part the earth’s atmosphere is composed of nitrogen. This nitrogen combines with the atmospheric oxygen and forms nitric acid. When this nitric acid falls on earth along with rain water it forms soluble nitrates.
In the combined form nitric acid occurs as Chile salt petre and Bengal salt petre
Nitric acid in its pure form is absolutely colourless but the one used for commercial purposes is yellowish brown in colour.The nitric acid has a sour taste with suffocating odour. Nitric acid, though heavier than water is also soluble in water. The acid in its purest form boils at a very high temperature of 86°C but also freezes to a white solid which has its melting point around -42°C .
Did you know?
Nitric acid, if accidentally it falls on the skin, corrodes the skin, causes painful blisters and stains the skin.
Do you know why?
Nitric acid reacts with the proteins present in our skin and forms xanthoproteic acid which stains the skin yellow.
Nitric acid is used in various industries for commercial purposes.
It forms three types of explosives: tri-nitro toluene, tri-nitro cellulose,tri-nitro glycerine
Nitrates for fertilizers,gun powder, photography
As dyes, drugs ,perfume and Azo-dyes
Manufacture of artificial silk and nylon
General uses –
As a solvent for etching designs on metals like copper or brass but not noble metals
Removal of impurities from crude gold without affecting the gold
As a rocket fuel oxidants
Preparation of certain fertilizers
Preparation of aqua regia for dissolving noble metals which are insoluble in other acids
Fact to know
Nitric acid is prepared in industries by OSTWALD’S PROCESS