Difference between Nitrate and Nitrite

In this post, you are going to learn about the Difference between Nitrate and Nitrite step by step with Diagram.

This post includes:

  • What are Nitrates?
  • Examples and Applications of Nitrates in our daily life
  • What are Nitrites?
  • Examples and Applications of Nitrates in our daily life
  • Comparison of Both Nitrates & Nitrites
  • Lots more

So if you want to get benefits from this post you’ll love this post.

Let’s Dive right in…

An Overview

Nitrates and Nitrites both terms that are interchangeable with each other that made people often confuse by pronouncing and meaning perspectives. both are two different kinds of chemical compounds. the Basic Difference between Nitrate and Nitrite is that Nitrite has a bent molecular geometry, form weak acids such as nitrous acids, and can be oxidized to form nitrates while nitrate has trigonal planner geometry, form strong acid like nitric acid, and can be reduced to form nitrites. 

the Nitrates (NO3) are always inert and Stable. they can not change and can cause harm to human beings. on the other hand, Nitrites (NO2) can be changed into nitric oxides that are not harmful as they are very beneficial to human beings. so basically both are the parts of the nitrogen cycle.

both belong to the inorganic compounds that are composed of nitrogen and oxygen. as for as, the number of oxygen atom bring change in the structure, chemical properties and shape of both the compounds. nitrites are made up of two oxygen and one nitrogen atom bonded together whereas, nitrates are made up of one nitrogen and three oxygen atoms chemically bonded with each other. 

Difference Between Nitrate and Nitrite in Tabular Form



They are inorganic polyatomic ions having a -1 charge on them.

They are inorganic polyatomic ions having a -1 charge on them.

Nitrates are made with the joint of 1 nitrogen and 3 oxygen atoms.

Nitrates are made up of two oxygen and one nitrogen atom.

They are reduced to make different forms of nitrites.

They are oxidized to form nitrates instead of reducing them.

Their oxidation number is +5.

Their oxidation number is +3.

They are formed with strong acids such as nitric acid.

They are formed with weak acids such as nitrous acid.

Nitrates possess trigonal planar geometry.

Nitrites possess a bent molecular geometry.

The anionic molar mass is 62g/mol.

The anionic molar mass is 46g/mol.

Nitrates are commonly used in many fields such as agriculture for fertilizer, food for preservation, many medicines, paints, explosives, and gases.

the production of meat and fish products at a large scale is due to the use of nitrites. 

nitrates can be changed into nitrites by the process of reduction and nitrites also change into nitrates by the process of oxidation. the nitrates and nitrites of sodium are often used for food preservation purposes. both of the preservative types are commonly used in meat to restrict the growth of bacteria. 

using an excessive amount of both types of nitrates is dangerous and creates problems for digestive system parts and function.

What is Nitrate?

Nitrate is a chemical compound that contains nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrates are used in the production of fertilizers, explosives, and rocket fuel. They can also be found in some medications to treat chest pain. Nitrate compounds are colorless solids with an ammonia-like smell at room temperature.

Nitrates are toxic if they come into contact with your skin or get inside your body through breathing or eating contaminated food or water; this includes swallowing nitrate pills for chest pain treatment.

Symptoms of nitration poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting spells (syncope), shortness of breath (dyspnea), low blood pressure (hypotension), rapid heart rate (tachycardia) and

What is Nitrite?

Nitrite is a chemical compound that has a molecular formula of NO2 and can be found in the air, water, soil, and living organisms. Nitrate is also a nitrite that has been oxidized to form nitrogen dioxide or nitric oxide. The word “nitrite” comes from the Latin word “nitrum,” which means saltpeter or potassium nitrate.

In chemistry, it’s used as an additive to foods such as bacon and ham to add flavor while preventing bacterial growth.

In biology, it’s used by cells for making energy from sugars through the process called glycolysis. This process releases ATP molecules which are then used by all cells for energy production during oxidative phosphorylation reactions with oxygen in mitochondria.

What are the Harmful effects of Nitrites?

nitrosamines are formed due to nitrites which caused many types of cancers in the human body. the university of Hawaii studied that overconsumption of nitrites in meat increase 67% chances of pancreatic cancer. 

if you cook at high heat, the chances of nitrosamine production increase. moreover, the excessive amount of cigarette smoke can also increase nitrosamine. 


  1. Which is worse nitrite or nitrate?

Answer: nitrates and nitrites are naturally occurring ions and are considered part of the nitrogen cycle. nitrite is more toxic than nitrate hence, it is used as food by many plants. 

2. Do plants use nitrate or nitrite?

Answer: Nitrate and nitrite are both naturally occurring compounds that can be found in soil, water, plants, and the atmosphere. Nitrates are one of the most common nitrogen compounds found in nature. The majority of nitrate is used for agriculture purposes because it converts to an essential nutrient for plants called ammonium which is used by plants to synthesize amino acids, nucleic acids, chlorophyll, vitamins A and E.

Nitrites on the other hand have limited use because they are toxic at high concentrations but play an important role in regulating blood acidity levels. If ingested orally they will turn into nitric oxide which relaxes arteries and improves blood flow throughout the body while also decreasing inflammation response.

3. How does nitrate become nitrite?

Answer: Nitrate is an ion that has nitrogen, oxygen, and a negative charge. Nitrite is the same as nitrate except for one thing- it has an extra oxygen atom. Nitrogen dioxide combines with water to form nitric acid. The electrons in the molecule are what give it its negative charge. When enough of these molecules combine they create a new substance called nitrous acid which then turns into another type of acid known as sodium nitrate when combined with metal ions like calcium or magnesium. Sodium hydroxide then reacts with this compound to produce sodium nitroxide and hydrogen gas which makes up the rest of our product-nitrite.

4. Why do nitrite and nitrate have the same charge?

Answer: Nitrites and nitrates are very similar but have different charges. Nitrite is a negatively charged ion, while nitrate is a positively charged ion. One of the differences between them is that they have different chemical formulas: nitrite has one nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms, while nitrate has one nitrogen atom and three oxygen atoms. They also dissociate at different rates in water: for every mole of dissolved nitrate, there are 2 moles of dissolved sodium ions, but only 1 mole of dissolved sodium ions for every 3 moles of dissolved nitrate molecules.

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