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  • Nitric acid (HNO3), also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid that can cause severe burns.
  • Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming nitric acid.
  • Fuming nitric acid is characterized as white fuming nitric acid and red fuming nitric acid, depending on the amount of nitrogen dioxide present.


  • Nitric acid is made by mixing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with water in the presence of oxygen or air to oxidize the nitrous acid also produced by the reaction.
  • Commercial grade nitric acid solutions are usually between 52% and 68% nitric acid. Commercial production of nitric acid is via the Ostwald process, named after Wilhelm Ostwald.
  • The acid can also be synthesized by oxidizing ammonia, but the product is diluted by the water also formed as part of the reaction.


  • A solution of nitric acid and alcohol, Nital, is used for etching of metals to reveal the microstructure.
  • Nitric acid is also used in explosives, and is one of the key components of Nitroglycerin and RDX .
  • In elemental analysis by ICP-MS, ICP-AES, GFAA, and Flame AA, dilute nitric acid (0.5 to 5.0 %) is used as a matrix compound for determining metal traces in solutions.
  • In a low concentration, nitric acid is often used to artificially age pine and maple. The color produced is a grey-gold very much like very old wax or oil finished wood.


  • Merchant Research & Consulting Ltd (UK) consulting agency says that the current global market for adipic acid is pretty well supplied, and the demand for industrial chemicals has been steadily growing.
  • The global demand for industrial chemicals based on nitric acid grows by an average of 7% per year.
  • In India, the market for concentrated nitric acid has been developing at a quick pace.
  • U.S. emissions of N2O from adipic and nitric acid production averaged around 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.


  • Nitric acid is a powerful oxidizing agent, and the reactions of nitric acid with compounds such as cyanides, carbides, and metallic powders can be explosive. Reactions of nitric acid with many organic compounds, such as turpentine, are violent and hypergolic .
  • Concentrated nitric acid dyes human skin yellow due to a reaction with the keratin. These yellow stains turn orange when neutralized.
  • The acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of acetohydroxamic acid in a nitric acid solution has been studied spectrophotometrically.
  • The ADEQ sampled ambient air for concentrated hydrochloric and nitric acids downwind of the release only after the massive release of nitric acid had ceased.

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