Name Sodium nitrate
Chemical formula NaNO3
Appearance White solid


Formula weight 85.0 amu
Melting point 580 K (307 °C)
Boiling point decomposes at 653 K (380 °C)
Density 2.3 ×103 kg/m3
Crystal structure ?
Solubility 92 g in 100mL water


ΔfH0liquid -452 kJ/mol
ΔfH0solid -468 kJ/mol
S0solid 117 J/mol·K


Ingestion Very dangerous, possibly fatal.
Inhalation Similar to ingestion.
Skin May cause irritation.
Eyes May cause irritation.
More info Hazardous Chemical Database
SI units were used where possible. Unless otherwise stated, standard conditions were used.

Disclaimer and references

The chemical compound sodium nitrate, the nitrate of sodium with chemical formula NaNO3, is a preservative that prevents botulism. It also undergoes a series of chemical reactions in meat that impart a red color, making meat appear fresh even when it is not. It is only used in canned meat, not ground beef or steak. Sodium nitrate is not found in canned tuna or chicken because it would make them pink. However, it is found in canned salmon. In the stomach, sodium nitrate produces a harmful compound called nitrosamine. Nitrosamine causes cancer in lab rats. Some people suggest that children and pregnant women should avoid this chemical, but the FDA has taken no action to enforce this. Sodium nitrate has long been used as an ingredient in explosives, and has been mined extensively for that purpose. The world's largest deposits were in the Atacama desert of Chile, and these were mined for over a century, until the 1940s.