Plant Care Products

Saltpeter and its application areas


Ammonium nitrate is chosen as the main source of nitrogen for plants during the period of active growth by many gardeners and agronomists. This is due to its versatility: it can be applied equally successfully for feeding almost all crops, and it is also suitable for most types of soil.

A feature of the formula of ammonium nitrate is the presence in it of nitrogen in two forms - nitrate and amide - NH4NO3. Due to this, the period of its assimilation from the soil by plants is somewhat prolonged. Nitrogen in the nitrate ion begins to be absorbed immediately after the introduction of the root, but the amide is not earlier than one week after feeding.

Types of drugs

Usually this fertilizer is produced with the addition of various elements. This is due to the geographical extent of the use of ammonium nitrate, as well as the need to adapt to the needs of farmers in different climatic zones.

  • Mark A. Used in various industries. It must contain at least 98% ammonium nitrate and not more than 0.3% water. The content of conditioning (stabilizing) additives, which typically use magnesium and calcium nitrates, should be 0.2-0.5% for calcium oxide and 0.5-1.2% for P2ABOUT5.
  • Brand B. Used exclusively for agricultural purposes. The nitrogen content in it should be at least 34%, and moisture, as well as grade A, should not exceed 0.3%. Ammonium nitrate of this particular brand is sold in garden stores and has a convenient packaging. It is divided into the highest, first and second grade, the main difference of which is the strength and size of the drug granules.
  • Porous modified. This type of nitrate is used as a raw material for the production of industrial explosives, which, in turn, are used in the mining, oil, gas industry, construction and other industries.

Production of ammonium nitrate

The technological process of obtaining this fertilizer is rather complicated and includes several steps:

1. First get a solution of magnesium nitrate (magnesia additive), which improves the physico-chemical properties of nitrate:

This process takes place for 4 hours at a temperature of about 80 ° C and atmospheric pressure.

2. Neutralization of nitric acid is carried out with ammonia leading to the formation of ammonium nitrate in the form of a solution. This process is carried out at atmospheric pressure and a temperature of 148-165 ° C.

3. A solution of ammonium nitrate enters the neutralizer, where an excess of nitric acid is neutralized with gaseous ammonia. To maintain the alkaline environment, the magnesia additive is introduced into the solution and sent to the stage of evaporation and granulation.

Storage and Security

Due to the fact that the nitrogen in the composition of ammonium nitrate has the ability to evaporate, the opened package with fertilizer must be used within a month. Sealed nitrate sealed in a waterproof container is stored for no more than six months. At the same time the room should be cool and there should be no direct sunlight.

This fertilizer belongs to the fire and explosion hazard, its self-ignition temperature is 350 ° C. But already at a temperature of 210 ° C, it decomposes with the formation of nitrogen oxides and water vapor. And in the interaction of nitrogen oxides with nitrate, flammable oxygen and ammonia are released. When mixing nitrate with metal powders, sawdust or straw, sugar and some other organic substances, a large amount of heat is released, which can trigger the above process.

It is also recommended to protect the granules of the drug from mechanical influences, such as impacts and friction, which can provoke an increase in their temperature.

Accumulation of nitrates in vegetables

Ammonium nitrate is a nitrate fertilizer. Thanks to the educational work of the media, many people have concluded for themselves that even a meager amount of nitrates in food has a detrimental effect on the human body. And the reason for their accumulation in the fruits are exclusively mineral fertilizers, in particular, nitrate.

However, this view is erroneous. First, nitrates not only with food enter living organisms, but also are formed in them in the course of natural biochemical reactions. For comparison, the maximum allowable amount of nitrates, which can be obtained from food without harm to health, is 325 mg per day. And in the human body they are formed on the same day at least 100 mg.

Secondly, it is not the nitrates themselves that are harmful, but the nitrites formed during their reduction. Symptoms of poisoning are nausea, weakness, diarrhea, shortness of breath. To alleviate the condition, it is necessary to wash the stomach, absorb absorbents such as activated carbon, fresh air.

Thirdly, the accumulation of nitrates in fruits and vegetables can be provoked and shock doses of organic fertilizers, such as manure, bird droppings and even herbal infusions. It is important to feed the plants at certain periods of their growth and in the required quantities. As a rule, nitrogen fertilizers stop applying for 2-3 weeks before harvesting.

It is also worth noting that not all plants with the same force accumulate nitrates. Champions in their content is the greens: dill, lettuce, parsley, as well as beets. But watermelons and melons with the right agricultural technology store up nitrates even less than cabbage.


The popularity of using ammonium nitrate for fertilizing plants is due to a number of undeniable advantages:

  • affordable cost of the drug,
  • possibility of application both in a dry, and in the dissolved look,
  • suitable for root and foliar dressings,
  • works well on cold soils in early spring,
  • good diffusion ability.

The last property of ammonium nitrate allows the granules to dissolve perfectly in moist soil and penetrate it quite deeply, delivering food to plants with a strong root system. However, it is included in the list of minuses.


Due to the high solubility in too wet soils and in areas with high groundwater levels, the introduction of this fertilizer is impractical because it will immediately leach out. Also feeding will be ineffective, carried out before the pouring rain.

Also a significant drawback of the drug is its physiological acidity. Regular use on soils with a low content of bases (podzolic soils, red soil of subtropics) provokes an increase in their acidity, and, consequently, a decrease in yield. To neutralize this effect, it is recommended to add dolomite or lime to the soil.

Top dressing of tomatoes

The introduction of ammonium nitrate when growing tomatoes can be made even at the seedling stage. It promotes the growth of strong seedlings. Fertilizing seedlings of tomatoes with nitrogen preparations is carried out three times:

  • after picking: 10 g of ammonium nitrate is mixed with 10 g of potassium salt (KCl) and 40 g of superphosphate, and then dissolve the mixture in a bucket of water,
  • 2 weeks after the first feeding: in 10 liters of warm water dissolve 15 g of saltpeter, 20 g of KCl and 70 g of superphosphate,
  • a week before landing in the ground: for 10 g of ammonium nitrate take 40 g of superphosphate and 60 g of potassium salt, dissolve the mixture in a bucket of water.

So that young plants do not get chemical burns, it is important to pour them with plain water before feeding, and then with a solution of the drug. At the same time it is necessary to avoid getting it on the stems and leaves of seedlings. If fertilizer drops hit the young greens, then you should immediately wash it with clean water.

The following feeding is carried out already in the open field and its duration depends on the quality of preparation of the planting holes. With proper agrotechnology, it is performed after the seedlings adapt to the new place and its active growth begins. With the advent of flowers and ovaries, the feeding of ammonium nitrate should be stopped.

Top dressing of cucumbers

This culture is fed with ammonium nitrate in the mixture with other mineral fertilizers, providing the flow of potassium and phosphorus. Do this at least twice per season:

  1. After the appearance of two pairs of true leaves: 10 g of saltpeter, KCl and superphosphate should be taken in 10 liters of water.
  2. With the beginning of flowering: 30 g of ammonium nitrate, 20 g of potassium salt and superphosphate in the amount of 40 g are dissolved in a bucket of water.

Since cucumbers are developing quite quickly, this is enough to get a good harvest. Overfed with nitrogen, they will reluctantly form the ovary, and this will affect the reduction in the number of fruits.

Top dressing potatoes

A feature of this culture is the underdeveloped roots and very large tubers, which accumulate various nutrients that enter and form in the plant. It is easy to imagine that when growing potatoes in the same place from year to year, the soil loses huge amounts of trace elements. If they are not replenished, then over time the tubers become shallow due to the lack of nutrition.

When preparing the field for planting potatoes, it is necessary to scatter the granules of ammonium nitrate at the rate of 30 g per 1 square meter immediately after the snow melt. Dissolving in rainwater, it will seep into the desired depth, and its subsequent harrowing contributes to its even distribution. It is also recommended to combine saltpeter with superphosphate, which is consumed in the amount of 15 g per 1 m 2.

The root feeding of potatoes with ammonium nitrate is carried out before hilling and after abundant watering. The working solution is prepared at the rate of 20 g of saltpeter and 40 g of superphosphate per 10 liters of water.

The effect of the drug on the body

Ammonium nitrate can enter the body through the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, getting on the skin and eyes. Nitrogen dust inhalation irritates the upper respiratory tract, the mucous membranes of the eyes, and the skin (especially if there are cracks and sores). Wash affected areas with running water for 15 minutes. Rinse the nose and mouth thoroughly and provide fresh air to the affected person.

If ingested, nitrate causes dizziness, nausea and vomiting. As first aid, activated charcoal, plentiful drink and saline laxative are used.

What is ammonium nitrate?

Ammonium nitrate is available in the form of white granules with a pinkish, yellow or gray tint. Their diameter reaches up to 3.5 mm.

Ammonium nitrate is used throughout agriculture. This is due to the fact that fertilizer begins to act instantly and has a fruitful effect even during cold weather.

Getting to the ground, ammonium nitrate decomposes and begins to release nitrogen, which is so important for plant life. Nitrogen is required for the full development of seedlings and increasing green mass. With a shortage of this substance, plants grow weak. Lack of nitrogen can be quickly replenished with ammonium nitrate.

This agrochemical can be purchased in packs or in bulk. It is inexpensive - about 25-30 rubles per 1 kg. If we consider that the rate of application of saltpeter is 10 g per 1 square meter. m., it turns out on the weave of land will take only 1 kg.

Composition and properties

NH4NO3 - saltpeter formula. It turns out as a result of mixing of nitrogen with hydrogen.

The composition contains the following substances:

The percentage of elements depends on the type of fertilizer itself. Such a high sulfur content is due to the fact that without it, plants can not assimilate nitrogen.

The composition may contain other trace elements (magnesium, calcium, potassium). They additionally nourish the soil.

Ammonium nitrate is universal, in it one half of nitrogen is expressed in the amide form, and the second - in the nitrate form. Plants absorb nitrates immediately, amides begin to work after a week, thereby providing a feeding effect for a long time.

Among the properties of ammonium nitrate can be distinguished:

  1. Granules are hygroscopic, that is, they quickly dissolve in water.
  2. Fertilizer compressed. To avoid this, chalk with lime is added to the saltpeter, which serve as additional sources of trace elements.
  3. Saltpeter is explosive, but this property is neutralized by ballast substances (the same lime with chalk).
  4. The surface of the granules is coated with surfactants. This ensures their hydrophobicity.

Varieties of ammonium nitrate

Almost always, this agrochemical is produced with the addition of various elements. This provides a large assortment, because of which ammonium nitrate can be used in different climatic zones.

The following types of fertilizer are distinguished:

  1. Simple ammonia. It can calmly replace such dressing as urea. Provides concentrated nutrition with nitrogen. Suitable for crops grown in mid-latitudes.
  2. Mark "B". Used for indoor plants and growing seedlings.
  3. Potassium nitrate. In addition to nitrogen, it also contains potassium. Use during flowering crops and fruit formation.
  4. Magnesium nitrate. It serves as an additional source of magnesium for vegetables and beans. Suitable for sandy and loamy soils.
  5. Calcium nitrate. It saturates the soil with calcium, most often it is used for soddy soils. Provides high yield and increases the shelf life of products.
  6. Limy. Contains all 3 of the above minerals. Granules have high strength and do not increase the acidity of the soil.
  7. Sodium nitrate. Ideal for potatoes and beets.

There is also barium and porous nitrate. In the farm, they are not useful because they are explosive. They are used to create explosives and pyrotechnic means.

The use of ammonium nitrate

Any fertilizer should be used taking into account plant species, soil type, climate, as well as agrochemical features. If you do not take into account all these points, the harvest can be ruined.

Ammonium nitrate has many types, therefore suitable for all types of soils. If the soil has a normal composition, then after applying the fertilizer it will not change. A slight acidification effect can be obtained on podzolic soil.

Application rates

Saltpeter is suitable for feeding any plants. The usual rate of application is 10 g per 1 square. m

However, there are other rules. They should be considered in more detail:

  1. For seedlings - 4-5 g per well. If a solution is needed, then 30 g will suffice for 10 liters of water.
  2. For vegetables - 5-10 g per 1 square. m
  3. For root vegetables - 5-7 g per square. m
  4. For fruit trees - 15-20 g per 10 liters of water. Bring immediately after flowering, and then another month.
  5. For ornamental shrubs and plantations - 15-20 g per 1 square. m. Need to make a trunk of plants.
  6. For flowers - 1 tbsp. l on a bucket of soil mixture or 2 g per 1 liter of water.

When and how to make saltpeter?

Plants especially need nitrogen in the spring and early summer. At this time, stems and leaves are actively formed. Since mid-July, the fertilizer should not be used. Rapid growth of green mass can harm the formation of fruits.

In certain cases, ammonium nitrate can be added in the fall. For example, clay and heavy soils should be fertilized in September.

Agrochemical recommended to make:

  1. In dry form. Suitable for spring and autumn refueling. Fertilizer is applied to small grooves and sprinkled with earth on top so that the granules do not wash out during watering or rain. After the soil should be loosened with a hoe.
  2. In the form of a solution. Used for root dressings. As mentioned above, the component dissolves well in water, so the make-up is prepared very quickly. It is only necessary to adhere to the specified norms.

Modern nitrate has certain differences in composition.

According to this criterion, nitrate can be divided into the following groups:

1. Sodium nitrate is a substance in the form of white crystals. It is widely used in agricultural areas as a fertilizer bred chemically and here you can buy it. Previously, such saltpeter was widely exported to the mills of Europe, but after the popularization of artificial fertilizers, its use was somewhat reduced. Due to its increased flammability, it is forbidden to be stored with organic combustible substances. In addition to agriculture, sodium nitrate has found its use in the manufacture of glass and metallurgical industry.

2. Potassium nitrate is a crystal-forming substance containing substantial amounts of nitrogen and potassium. Potassium nitrate has found the scope of its application in fertilizers of agricultural crops, activating plant photosynthesis, acting as feedings for vegetable, shrub and fruit plants, and it can also be purchased on this site. It is also widely used to create explosives, is included in the composition of black powder as sulfur and charcoal.

3. Ammonium nitrate is a white powdery substance, which, like the previous types of nitrate, is primarily distributed in agriculture as a fertilizer. Its undoubted advantage is compatibility with any types of soil, and it is also inexpensive (about 25 rubles per kg), which explains its popularity. Ammonium nitrate abundantly supplies plants with nitrogen. Требующая обильной поливки, аммиачная селитра может использоваться для подкормки даже зимой.

Помимо подкармливающих свойств, селитра оказывает защищающее от болезни действие на растения. This is important under conditions of increased land exploitation or annual cultivation of crops of the same class in the same territory, since this is the cause of the spread of harmful fungi in the upper layers of the soil.

All these types of nitrate are irreplaceable and useful both in agriculture, and in industrial areas of production.

Saltpeter can be prepared independently and used as fertilizer or impregnation for the wick. To do this, use soda and ammonium nitrate from the store in a consistency of 1: 2. Soda and ammonium nitrate should be mixed and filled with warm or better hot water.

This will cause a chemical reaction to release carbon dioxide and ammonia. The resulting material is boiled for a couple of hours and evaporated. If potassium nitrate is produced, the soda is replaced, respectively, with potassium. To obtain it, vegetable ash dissolved in water is used, which is subsequently evaporated.

All types of nitrate need proper storage, since the main element of the composition, nitrogen, if improperly stored, can evaporate, weakening the properties of nitrate. First, saltpeter should be stored in a room that is not subject to sharp temperature fluctuations, as this may trigger a recrystallization process.

In no case should we forget about the rules for the use of nitrate, since this substance is dangerous to human health. Due to its increased risk of explosion, in case of improper storage and operation there may be a risk of fire.

The critical temperature for saltpeter is 32 degrees Celsius. It is worth paying attention to it, especially in the summer, and to store saltpeter under special sheds, and in winter - in rooms with good ventilation.

General properties of matter

All species are in the form of crystals, soluble in water. They serve as basic components for the creation of more than 20 varieties of mineral nitrogen fertilizers used in agriculture. Saltpeter is characterized by the following properties:

  1. Fusible. When heated, changes structure and decomposes into nitrites and oxygen.
  2. Antibacterial, preserving and disinfecting properties are inherent.
  3. Products have a similar appearance. Usually whitish. Supplements add a little yellowness. Visually difficult to distinguish.
  4. Normally odorless. When ingested with a small amount of water, the products decompose and release specific miasms.

Disadvantages are high hygroscopicity and explosiveness. Products need special conditions for long-term storage.

Requires strict adherence to instructions for use. Even a slight excess of dosages can lead to consequences dangerous to human health.

Types of saltpeter

Elements have a large species diversity.. Directly to the nitrate group are 7 substances. These are nitrate salts of sodium, potassium, ammonium, barium, strontium, calcium, magnesium. In everyday practice, have different names.

  • Ammonium nitrate. Known as ammonium and ammonium nitrate. Chemical formula - NH4NO3. A common production method is the chemical reaction of anhydrous ammonia (hydrogen nitride) and concentrated sulfuric acid. NH3 + HNO3 = NH4NO3. The process is exothermic, that is, a large amount of heat is released. Production outside special industrial areas is fraught with injuries. To obtain the desired chemical compound from natural calcium phosphate, it is converted into calcium nitrate, phosphorus is separated and combined with hydrogen nitride. The output is the desired product.
  • Potassium nitrate. Used names: potassium, Indian nitrate, potassium nitrate and potassium nitrate. The chemical formula of nitrate is KNO3. In nature, lies in the form of the mineral nitrocalite. With the exception of deposits in the East Indies, there are no other major resources. Therefore, this type of nitrate is called Indian. Potassium nitrate is non-toxic, hygroscopic weak. Practically slesyaetsya. Decomposes at relatively high temperature (500 0 С). Potassium nitrite (KNO3) and oxygen (O2) are released. There are several ways to obtain a product on an industrial scale. Considered promising is the production of magnesium nitrate (MgNO3) and potassium chloride (KCl). The advantage of the method in the abundance of raw materials. Components are not considered scarce. Another way is the conversion of ammonium and sodium nitrates into potassium nitrate.
  • Sodium Nitrate. Traditional names: sodium nitrate, soda nitrate. The concept of Chilean nitrate is often used. The formula is NaNO3. Strongly absorbs moisture, which complicates storage and limits the use in some areas (the manufacture of pyrotechnics). Decomposition starts at T = 380 ° C. Sodium nitrite (NANO2) and oxygen are formed. It freely enters into chemical reactions with alkali metal salts, forming new compounds. It has strong oxidative characteristics. It is made by chemical means by the reaction of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda, caustic alkali, caustic soda) or acidic sodium salts with nitric acid. The raw material base is wide. There is no shortage of components. Under natural conditions found on deposits in Chile. But they are severely depleted and no longer play their former parents. Nevertheless, the name of the country is firmly established in saltpeter.
  • Calcium Nitrate. Related names: calcium nitrate, Norwegian (at the main place of production), lime nitrate, calcium nitrate. Chemical formula - (СaNO3) 2. Characteristic feature: the strongest hygroscopicity among analogues. Store in dry places without moisture. Does not burn. When in contact with oxygen and Ca (NO2) 2. The main method of release is the effect of nitric acid on limestone (CaCO3). In addition to nitrate, this method produces pure calcium oxide — quicklime used in industry.
  • Barium nitrate. The same product - barium, barite nitrate. Formula Ba (NO3) 2. The main raw material resource for obtaining the product by mining is the mineral nitrobarite. The chemical method is associated with the interaction of barium sulfide (BaS) or barium carbonate (BaCO3) with nitric acid. The product is toxic, flammable, explosive.
  • Magnesium Nitrate. Chemical formula Mg (NO3) 2. At T = 300 9 C and above, it is decomposed into magnesium oxides (MgOB) and nitrogen. Soluble in water. It has low electrical conductivity. Susceptible to burning. Promotes the spread of fire.
  • Strontium nitrate (strontium nitrate, strontium nitrate). The formula is Sr (NO3) 2. Obtained by reaction of strontium carbonate (SrO3) and nitric acid. Soluble in water. At T = 100 0 С the product is dehydrated. He has the properties of an explosive.

Fertilizer application

All types of nitrates are included in the group organic nitrate fertilizer. Nitrogen is one of the leading chemical elements that increase the vegetative, protein and gluten mass of plants.

In this regard, fertilizer plays an important role as an effective means to increase crop yields.

The most popular product is ammonium nitrate. Applicable to all cultures. Used in different periods of agricultural work. Protects plants from fungal and other diseases. Application rate - no more than 50 g / m 2, in gardens - 10 g / m 2. Otherwise, do not avoid burning rhizomes.

  • Potassium product - the main source of potassium, which are deficient in plants and animals. Balances the mineral balance in plant tissues, improves photosynthesis. Optimal for dressings.
  • Calcium nitrate. It is important to feed the land with calcium, which contributes to higher yields. Increases the shelf life of fruit and vegetable products. Prevents inhibition of development and rotting of the root system.
  • Sodium nitrate. Cultivated in the pre-planting period. Preferred for row application. Officially registered only one fertilizer. Feature - absorbed only biologically. In the absence of plants, it is washed away by groundwater and rain. Suitable for all soils except salt marshes. Easily absorbed by plants. Effective for sugar beet (increases sugar yield) and root crops.
  • Magnesium nitrate. In magnesium, legumes are in need. To a lesser extent other vegetables. The element is necessary to accelerate the processes of growth, maintain the level of proteins, the absorption of phosphorus.

Use as explosives

Nitric acid substances are the basic structural elements of all groups of explosives (IV).

The propellant explosives include black powder, which is made from a mixture of potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal.

Blasting explosives are less responsive to external influences than other similar products. However, they have more power. Ammonium nitrate with the addition of combustible components (peat, diesel fuel, coal, aluminum powder, wood flour) forms ammonal explosives and ammonites of different capacities. Used in military shells, as well as in the mining and road-building fields.

Potassium and Sodium Nitrates - The main structural components of dynamites.

Strontium and barium products are used for the manufacture of pyrotechnic products for domestic use. Of them make ammunition of light and noise action.

Other uses

The uses of saltpeter are diverse.. It is a necessary component in the production of black powder, match and glass products. In the food industry, they will be involved in the production of smoked meats, as well as the storage of meat and sausage products, in metallurgy - for hardening steel. A good etching agent for the textile industry.

Oil workers use it to create a gel-forming rim, which serves to enhance the recovery of the reservoir.

Research scientists open up new opportunities for chemical compounds. Saltpeter becomes a structural element of rocket production, the production of cars, ships.

Is there any harm to health?

Saltpeter refers to nitrates. We know from the media that vegetables and fruits containing nitrates have a detrimental effect on our health. This is not quite true.

First, nitrates enter the body not only with food, but also formed in it as a result of biochemical reactions. The maximum amount of nitrates that can be consumed with food per day is 320 mg. During the same day about 100 mg of nitrates are formed in the body.

Secondly, the nitrates themselves are not dangerous. Nitrites, which are formed due to their reduction, can harm.

Thirdly, when applying fertilizers you need to know the measure. Nitrogen, in addition to saltpeter, is also found in bird droppings and manure. Plant nutrition should be done in a timely manner and in the required amount. 2 weeks before the harvest, nitrate cannot be added. So you can avoid the accumulation of large amounts of nitrates.

That is, with proper agrotechnology, nitrates will not accumulate in fruits. So they can eat without fear for their health. It is quite another thing if there was a poisoning with this fertilizer. This substance can enter the body through the digestive tract, respiratory organs, just getting on the skin and eye mucosa.

Nitrogen dust is highly irritating to the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. In this case, rinse the affected areas thoroughly with water. Rinse mouth, rinse nose and get fresh air.

If nitrate got into the digestive tract, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness may occur. Victims should be given first aid (give activated carbon, provide plenty of drink). If necessary, call a doctor.

Storage conditions

The storage of ammonium nitrate should be given due attention. The drug is toxic and explosive, besides it is afraid of moisture.

The shelf life of fertilizer - 6 months. Open packaging is stored for only a month. To increase this period, you can use sealed containers. At the same time, desiccants that prevent liquefaction should be placed in the container. For example, a natural shell rock protects from dampness.

Fertilizer should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place. The optimum temperature is no more than 30 ° C. Temperature jumps can lead to recrystallization, making the fertilizer difficult to dissolve.

Categorically it is impossible to mix saltpeter with other fertilizers, as it is easily flammable. First of all, it should not be stored near urea.

Ammonium nitrate is a well-proven fertilizer. It increases the yield, improves the taste quality of fruits and also extends their shelf life. Use the drug should be very carefully. Before use, do not forget to read the instructions and application rates.