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Potassium nitrate

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Name Potassium nitrate
Chemical formula KNO3
Appearance White or dirty gray solid
Formula weight 101.1 amu
Melting point 607 K (334 °C)
Boiling point decomposes at 673 K (400 °C)
Density 2.1 ×103 kg/m3
Crystal structure Aragonite
Solubility 38 g in 100g water
ΔfH0gas ? kJ/mol
ΔfH0liquid -483 kJ/mol
ΔfH0solid -495 kJ/mol
S0gas, 1 bar ? J/mol·K
S0liquid, 1 bar ? J/mol·K
S0solid ? J/mol·K
Ingestion May cause GI irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
Inhalation Irritation, long term exposure may be fatal.
Skin Low hazard.
Eyes Low hazard.
More info Hazardous Chemical Database (http://ull.chemistry.uakron.edu/erd/chemicals/7/6965)
SI units were used where possible. Unless otherwise stated, standard conditions were used.

Disclaimer and references

The chemical compound potassium nitrate is a naturally occurring mineral source of nitrogen. It is a nitrate with chemical formula KNO3. Its common names include saltpetre (American English saltpeter), Chilean saltpetre, and nitre. The name "saltpeter" is also applied to sodium Nitrate.

It is the oxidising component of gunpowder. Prior to the large-scale industrial fixation of nitrogen (the Haber process), a major source of saltpetre was the deposits crystallising from the drainings of dung-heaps; thereby making dung-heaps a valuable military resource.

An urban legend holds that soldiers, sailors, and other young men in institutional situations are secretly administered saltpetre in their food, especially during bootcamp, to suppress their sexual urges. It is conjectured that the troops were employing a folk etymology and replacing "salt" with "soft". The reduction in sexual urges does in fact occur, but is caused by physical exhaustion related to intense training.

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