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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
Potassium Nitrate is a naturally occurring chemical compound generally found
in crystal deposits in cave walls due to bat guano. Purification of KNO
was first completed and
outlined in 1270 by Syrian chemist and engineer Hassan al-Rammah. The next major
advancement in understanding KNO
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
is used primarily in rocket propellants, fireworks, and fertilizers. Potassium
Nitrate has many uses and applications and an extensive history.
First, KNO
is an odorless generally white colored solid with a density of 2.109g/cm
is one of several nitrogen-containing compounds collectively referred to
as saltpeter or saltpetre. Resembling the other saltpeter compounds KNO
has a high melting
point of 334 C degrees and decomposes at 400 C degrees. There are several methods to
synthesize KNO
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
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
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

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

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.
"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.
"What makes Fireworks burst?" Science Illustrated Jan.-Feb. 2013: 9. Student Resources in
Context. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.

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