<chemistry> Potassium nitrate; niter, a white crystalline substance, KNO3, having a cooling saline taste, obtained by leaching from certain soils in which it is produced by the process of nitrification (see Nitrification, 2). It is a strong oxidizer, is the chief constituent of gunpowder, and is also used as an antiseptic in curing meat, and in medicine as a diuretic, diaphoretic, and refrigerant.

<chemistry> Chili salpeter, nitric acid; sometimes so called because made from saltpeter.

Origin: F. Salpetre, NL. Sal petrae, literally, rock salt, or stone salt; Salt, and Petrify.

American spelling: saltpeter

(01 Mar 1998)

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