Difference Between Nitrite and Nitrate

Nitrite and Nitrate

The terms ‘Nitrite’ and ‘Nitrate’ are frequently used interchangeably owing to their similar pronunciations and spellings. Both of these compounds are inorganic compounds composed of nitrogen and oxygen. It is the number of oxygen atoms that bring out the difference in the shape, chemical structure, and properties of these compounds. Nitrites are known to hold one nitrogen atom along with two oxygen atoms, whereas nitrates are known to hold one nitrogen atom, bonded to three different oxygen atoms.

Difference Between Nitrite and Nitrate

A nitrite can become a nitrate by the process of oxidation and similarly, a nitrate can become a nitrite by the process of reduction. The various differences between nitrites and nitrates are listed in this article.

Difference Between Nitrite and Nitrate

Nitrate Nitrite
Made up of a nitrogen atom and three oxygen atoms Made up of a nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms
The oxidation number of nitrogen in nitrates is +5 The oxidation number of nitrogen in nitrites is +3
Forms a strong acid known as nitric acid Forms a weak acid known as nitrous acid
Trigonal planar geometry shape Has a bent molecular geometry shape
Reduced to form nitrites Oxidised to form nitrates
Used in fertilizers and explosives Used in food preservatives

The listed were a few differences between nitrate and nitrite. The main difference between nitrate and nitrite is the number of oxygen atoms in each that results in the difference in the structure, shape and function.

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