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  • Posted by: Citizen Cooling Solutions Limited

What is Nitric Acid?

Nitric acid, often referred to as “aqua fortis” in the earlier days, is a potent and versatile chemical compound with a wide range of industrial applications. This strong acid, with the chemical formula HNO3, plays a pivotal role in numerous industrial processes, from the production of fertilizers to the manufacturing of explosives. In this article, we will explore what nitric acid is and delve into its diverse and critical applications in industry.

Understanding Nitric Acid

Nitric acid is a highly corrosive and colorless liquid that is both strong and reactive. It is a mineral acid that dissociates into hydrogen ions (H+) and nitrate ions (NO3-) when dissolved in water. The chemical’s strength and reactivity make it a powerful oxidizing agent, an essential characteristic for many of its industrial applications.

Industrial Applications of Nitric Acid

  1. Fertilizer Production: One of the most significant industrial applications of nitric acid is in the manufacturing of fertilizers, specifically ammonium nitrate. Nitric acid reacts with ammonia (NH3) to produce ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), a critical component in nitrogen-based fertilizers. These fertilizers provide essential nutrients to crops, promoting their growth and increasing agricultural yields.
  2. Metallurgy: In the field of metallurgy, nitric acid is utilized for various purposes. It is employed to passivate stainless steel, removing impurities and providing a protective oxide layer. Additionally, it can be used for metal etching and refining processes.
  3. Dyes and Pigments: Nitric acid plays a role in the synthesis of dyes and pigments, enabling the creation of vibrant and long-lasting colors. These dyes are used in textiles, printing, and various other industries.
  4. Rocket Propulsion: Nitric acid is used as an oxidizer in rocket propulsion systems. Particularly, “red fuming nitric acid” is employed in combination with rocket fuels to create a highly energetic and efficient means of thrust.
  5. Wastewater Treatment: In the domain of wastewater treatment, nitric acid assists in the neutralization of alkaline waste materials. It helps regulate the pH levels of effluents and is crucial in maintaining environmentally-friendly discharge from industrial processes.
  6. Chemical Synthesis: Nitric acid is an essential component in various chemical syntheses, enabling the production of organic compounds, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals. It often serves as a strong oxidizing agent in these reactions.
  7. Semiconductor Manufacturing: Nitric acid is used for cleaning and etching silicon wafers during semiconductor manufacturing processes. Its ability to remove surface contaminants and create precise patterns is vital in this industry.
  8. Safety and Laboratory Applications: In laboratories, nitric acid is used for cleaning glassware, and it’s also employed in safety applications like the production of signal smoke and airbags.


Molar Weight 63,01g/mol
Melting Point – 42° C
Boiling Point   83° C
Form Liquid


Nitric acid, with its formidable oxidizing properties and wide-ranging applications, is a cornerstone of industrial processes. From agriculture to metallurgy and beyond, its versatility makes it indispensable in countless industries. However, its handling and use require careful consideration due to its corrosive nature and potential hazards. As industry continues to evolve, nitric acid will undoubtedly remain a critical component in the chemical arsenal, contributing to progress, innovation, and growth across various sectors.

Citizen Cooling Solutions Limited is the leading distributor of Nitric Acid in Kenya and Eastern Africa.

Nitric acid (HNO3), also known as aqua fortis (Latin for “strong water”) and spirit of niter, is a highly corrosive mineral acid. The pure compound is colorless. Most commercially available nitric acid has a concentration of 68% in water.

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Author: Citizen Cooling Solutions Limited
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