Difference between Nitrate and Nitrite

Main Difference

Both these organic compounds are rather similar to each other, but the main difference lies in the way their atoms and molecules are arranged. For a Nitrate compound it is one nitrogen and three oxygen molecules, and in the case of Nitrite compound, it is one nitrogen and two oxygen molecules.

Comparison Chart

Basis of Distinction Nitrate
Nitrite
Structure Made up of one nitrogen and three oxygen molecules. Made up of one nitrogen and two oxygen molecules.
Stability More stable because of the complete structure. Less stable because of the lone pair.
Usage Used in fertilizers because they have high solubility. Used as a preserving agent because of their ability to kill bacterial growth.
Examples Sodium Nitrate and Potassium Nitrate Ammonium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrite

Nitrate

These can be defined as inorganic compounds which are made up of nitrogen and oxygen atoms, in the case of this compound it is one nitrogen and three oxygen molecules. The best examples of these types of polyatomic ions are Sodium Nitrate and Potassium Nitrate. Looking at the structure of these it can be observed that the ion consists of one central region of nitrogen and has three other oxygen molecules surrounding it. The charge on the central atom is -1 and the charge on the other three are -0.66. When all these are added up, a formal charge of polyatomic nitrate ion is formed, and this arrangement is known as resonance. These have distinct properties, and almost all of these inorganic nitrates are soluble in water and have a particular temperature and pressure. The main source of this salt in the human body is from the vegetables we eat and the chief source among them is spinach. They are also found in different juices and even meat. The amount can be increased or decreased depending on how the food is cooked. These are found in abundance on the earth surface and have large deposits of Nitratine from where they are obtained. This compound is also obtained from various types of bacteria while also finding in the gunpowder. It has many purposes, but the main ones include their use in fertilizers since they have high solubility. The biggest sources for them are ammonium, sodium, potassium and they are produced in large amounts every year.

Nitrite

These can be defined as organic compounds which are composed of oxygen and nitrogen molecules, but the main thing about them is that there is two oxygen while one nitrogen atom. It is not a strong compound and can easily be oxidized or reduced with the help of various processes. It is known as an ambidentate and can combine with five different types to form a bond. Moving on to the structure, it is symmetrical in shape with both the nitrogen and oxygen atoms in equal length, this means that it gets an equal contribution from all the atoms which are a part of it. There is a negative charge on the two oxygen atoms which is divided equally. Both have a lone pair of electrons and can donate a pair. The best examples of nitrite will be hyponitrous acid and ammonium nitrite. It has many uses in real life, for example, sodium nitrite is used for preserving meat since it has a reducing agent and does not support any bacterial growth. It has been used for such purposes for well over a century. These can be found in various food items such as vegetables and meat, they can react with amino acids and form carcinogens which keep the meat fresh for a longer time. When it undergoes the process protonation, the unstable, weak acid, nitrous acid is produced as a result of it. The chemical reactions take place for this are lighter in comparison to others and considered less complex.

Key Differences

  • Both the nitrate and nitrite compounds are composed of oxygen and nitrogen atoms, but there is the difference in the amount of the molecules present.
  • Nitrate is an organic compound which has three oxygen and one nitrogen molecule while Nitrite is an organic compound which has two oxygen and one nitrogen molecule in its structure.
  • Nitrate is more stable because of the structure it has while Nitrite is considered less stable since there is always a lone pair present.
  • Nitrate is found mostly in vegetables and fruits while Nitrite is mostly found in vegetables and meat.
  • The best example of Nitrate is Sodium Nitrate and Potassium Nitrate while the best examples of Nitrite is hyponitrous acid and ammonium nitrite.
  • Nitrates are used in fertilizers because they have high solubility while Nitrites are mostly used as a preserving agent because of their ability to kill bacterial growth.

Video Explanation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuuVkktcSqM

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