Nitric Acid (HNO3) : Structure, Uses and Precaution

Published on 14-Oct-2022

Nitric acid

Nitric Acid is a tough acid with the chemical formula HNO3. Its theoretical form is colorless, but as it ages, it turns into a yellow cast. This color seems to be due to the breakdown of Nitric acid into oxides of nitrogen and water. It is very corrosive and highly toxic. It causes harsh skin burns. It reacts with hydroxides, metals, and oxides to form nitrate salts.

HNO3 is used in the form of a strong oxidizing agent. The catalytic oxidation of ammonia can produce it. It is a common reagent used in laboratories and an important chemical used in different industries to produce explosives and fertilizers. The PH of Nitric acid is something like 3.01.


Nitric acid molecules have three oxygen atoms, one nitrogen atom, and one hydrogen atom. In HNO3 molecules, one of the oxygen atoms is double-bonded to the middle nitrogen atom. Another oxygen atom is singly bonded to the middle nitrogen atom and singly bonded to an atom of hydrogen. The ultimate oxygen atom in the nitric acid molecule has a charge of -1 and is singly bonded to the middle nitrogen atom. As the nitrogen atom in the middle of the molecule participates in four covalent bonds, it has a charge of +1. Thus, the net charge on the molecule of nitric acid is 0. It can be distinguished that the charges in these molecules can be delocalized due to resonance.

Uses of Nitric acid

Ammonium nitrate is produced using nitric acid, which produces different dyes, fertilizers, and plastic. Explosives such as TNT require nitric acid to be produced. It is used in the form of an oxidizer in liquid-fueled rockets. In electrochemistry, it is used in the form of a doping agent.

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