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Shane A Perry

Mr. Webb
Honors Chemistry
27 February 2014
Honors Project: Potassium Nitrate

Potassium Nitrate is a chemical compound of Potassium ions (K), and Nitrate ions (N)
written as KNO
3.
Potassium Nitrate is a naturally occurring chemical compound generally found
in crystal deposits in cave walls due to bat guano. Purification of KNO
3
was first completed and
outlined in 1270 by Syrian chemist and engineer Hassan al-Rammah. The next major
advancement in understanding KNO
3
was in 1862 during the American Civil War. Joseph
LeConte when he used urine instead on solid waste in the producing process for gunpowder.
Currently, KNO
3
is used primarily in rocket propellants, fireworks, and fertilizers. Potassium
Nitrate has many uses and applications and an extensive history.
First, KNO
3
is an odorless generally white colored solid with a density of 2.109g/cm
3
.
KNO
3
is one of several nitrogen-containing compounds collectively referred to
as saltpeter or saltpetre. Resembling the other saltpeter compounds KNO
3
has a high melting
point of 334 C degrees and decomposes at 400 C degrees. There are several methods to
synthesize KNO
3
the most common way is combing ammonium nitrate and potassium
hydroxide. The second method is generally only used in factories in order to mass produce
KNO
3.
This process requires a double displacement reaction among sodium nitrate and potassium
chloride. In 1270 a Syrian chemist and engineer Hassan al-Rammah outlined his observations
and experimentations with KNO
3.
Hassan al-Rammah mastered the purification process. He only
using water and a heat source then adding potassium. Hassan al-Rammah discovery was a major
advancement in understanding KNO
3.

Secondly, potassium nitrate is a very simple chemical compound. At room temperature
KNO
3



Works Cited
"Potassium Nitrate." Chemical Compounds. Ed. Neil Schlager, Jayne Weisblatt, and David E.
Newton. Vol. 3. Detroit: UXL, 2006. 655-658. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Feb.
2014.
"Potassium." Chemical Elements. David E. Newton. Ed. Kathleen J. Edgar. 2nd ed. Vol. 3.
Detroit: UXL, 2010. 451-459. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
"Potassium Nitrate." The 100 Most Important Chemical Compounds: A Reference Guide.
Richard L. Myers. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007. 227-230. Gale Virtual Reference
Library. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
"Potassium Nitrate." Potassium Nitrate. Wikipedia , 15 Feb. 2008. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_nitrate>.
"What makes Fireworks burst?" Science Illustrated Jan.-Feb. 2013: 9. Student Resources in
Context. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.

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