Is Nitric Acid Flammable? Here Is The Answer That You Need

Nitric acid is a colorless or light yellowish liquid that is commonly used to make plastic, dye, and fertilizers. As it is used in multiple sectors, it is a must to know about its reactivity, like flammability. 

So, is Nitric acid flammable?

No, Nitric acid isn’t flammable by nature. However, you can not take it lightly, as this colorless liquid can be quite vigorous when it reacts with a few elements. It is a strong oxidizer that triggers the combustion of other substances such as Charcoal, organics, Carbon, Peroxides, Nitrates, etc. 

Now, this gives you a brief answer to your concern. But reading along till the very end of our article, you get to know about it in detail with many insights.

However, keep reading to get into the main part now!

Is Nitric Acid Explosive?

We already know that Nitric acid isn’t flammable, but it does not mean this liquid has no risk to use! Therefore, that brings the question, is Nitric acid explosive?

Well, yes! Nitric acid could be really explosive in many situations. This colorless liquid can react with almost every metal and even powdered ones. 

Note that the reaction of Nitric acid is extremely vigorous when it gets along with metals. A reaction of this liquid with metals forms hydrogen gas and triggers flammability.

Due to this, there could be very quick and spontaneous explosions that you would not even get time to think of it. Within a very short period of time, it can result in a huge fire!

Now, you may wonder what type of metals are most reactive with this liquid. Well, some of the metals that Nitric acid reacts vigorously with are antimony, manganese, and titanium.

Other than that, there are also alkali and alkaline earth metals. Some of them are sodium, calcium, magnesium, and many more, with which this liquid reacts.

So, we can say that Nitric acid is explosive and can be really dangerous when this liquid comes in contact with metals!

Why Is Nitric Used in Explosives?

Coming across the previous segment, we understand that Nitric acid is quite explosive. So, we can guess that it is also a good element to be used in explosives. 

However, there are actually more than that for which this liquid is used in explosives, and that is due to its chemical properties. So, Nitric acid is basically a very strong oxidizing acid.

Nitric Used in Explosives

This liquid reacts vigorously with almost every metal. In addition, Nitric acid also reacts with many other raw and organic elements, leading to little or big explosions. 

Now, this mainly happens as the hydroxyl group strips hydrogen from the molecule for the formation of water. In that place, the leftover nitro substitutes the place of hydrogen.

As a result of this, Nitric acid starts getting reactive very easily. This is why scientists use Nitric acid in explosives, as it can start reacting vigorously easily and become explosive.

How Is Nitric Acid Used in Explosives?

It is not an easy task for scientists to work with Nitric acid. Now, when it is about using this in explosives, they have to be really careful about what they are doing. 

So, here we have covered how they use Nitric acid in explosives in simple steps, as we may not understand all their processes in detail.

Nitric Acid Used in Explosives

Step 1: Preparation of the Chemicals

The first thing they do is prepare the other chemicals needed to make the explosive. Only Nitric acid can not work itself for an explosion as it needs complementaries to work on.

So, other metals are prepared in the lab before they start working with this liquid, Nitric acid.

Step 2: Nitration of Glycerol and Toluene

Now, they nitrate the glycerol and toluene with Nitric acid to form nitroglycerin and trinitrotoluene. This is known as TNT, which acts as an explosive.

So, this is how they use Nitric acid in explosives.

Nitric Acid Fire Hazards

Nitric acid can be hazardous in many ways. However, this is mainly considered to be risky for fire hazards in daily life. So, take a look at the common hazards of Nitric acid.

  • Nitric acid isn’t flammable but can react vigorously with elements, especially alkali and alkaline metals.
  • This colorless liquid may seem normal, but it can become combustible when it comes to contact with the air.
  • Nitric acid commonly reacts with turpentine and charcoal. This pollutes the air significantly and has long-term effects on the environment.
  • You may not be aware, but Nitric acid can catch fire very quickly, especially reacting with elements like potassium, sodium, magnesium, and many more.

So, these are the adverse consequences one can go through with Nitric acid.

What Happens If You Burn Nitric Acid?

If you are burning in a lab under a controlled environment, there would not be many adverse effects. However, there are always risks of catching fire when you burn this liquid.

This is because if Nitric acid comes in contact with air and loses the balance of the controlled environment, it starts reacting.

Note that this reaction of Nitric acid could be robust. Initially, it may start with little sparks, but with time, it can transform into an explosion as well.

How to Extinguish a Nitric Acid Fire?

Extinguishing fire is always a crucial task for anyone. Although Nitric acid isn’t highly flammable, you still can not take Nitric acid fire lightly. 

How to Extinguish a Nitric Acid Fire

You need to maintain each and every step carefully to stop this fire. So, here we have the steps to extinguish a Nitric acid fire.

Step 1: Discharge the Source

First, you have to discharge the source of Nitric acid. In addition, stop any source of power if available around. 

Do not forget to turn off any type of heat source right away. Try to close the space if you can but do not suffocate yourself.

Step 2: Use Water Spray

Now, take water sprays to eliminate or reduce the vapor and smoke of the fire. Remember that you must not use any type of chemical or foam to extinguish the Nitric acid fire.

If you can, get water sources to water the space this time. Try to flood the space so that the area starts cooling down.

It may take some time to extinguish the fire, but this would definitely help you to get off the fire. 

Now, if you think you still want expert help, reach out to your local firemen immediately! So, this is how you can extinguish a Nitric acid fire safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What temperature can trigger Nitric acid to catch fire?

The flash point of Nitric acid is about 121 degrees Celsius or 249 Fahrenheit. This means Nitric acid would catch fire when it reaches this temperature. Although this liquid is not flammable, it can cause serious fire hazards occasionally.

2. Is it too hard to extinguish a Nitric acid fire?

In general, extinguishing fire is always risky if you can not start doing it on time. However, Nitric acid fire is not that hard to put off. But you need to know the actual way of doing this if you do not want any deadly consequences of it.

3. Does Nitric acid light up a fire if dropped on cloth or skin?

Yes, Nitric acid can light up a fire if it is dropped on cloth. Although the fire may not be that intense, it would still be enough to damage the cloth. Note that any drop of this liquid on the skin will also burn the skin immediately.

The Final Words

Now you have the answer to whether is Nitric acid flammable or not! We believe you can work with it without any more safety complications.

So, that is the end of our article, but before we wrap up, here is one last tip for you. If you are using Nitric acid for the first time, try to keep someone with you who has used it before. This would help you to be safer!

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