Here are four different ways that chemists use to show a molecule of nitric acid. In the colored molecule models, nitrogen is blue, oxygen is red, and hydrogen is white.
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Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell.
Nitric Acid - HNO3
Nitric acid is a very strong acid that can burn your skin. Nitric acid has nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms in it. There is a very tiny bit of nitric acid gas in Earth's atmosphere.
Nitric acid is one of the acids in acid rain. Polluted air has much more nitric acid in it than clean air. Car and truck engines make chemicals called nitrogen oxides when they burn their fuel. When nitrogen oxides mix with water vapor in the air, they turn into nitric acid. This nitric acid falls from the sky as acid rain.
People use nitric acid for lots of things. It is used to make fertilizer. It is also used to make explosives, like nitroglycerin and TNT. The acid is used to make patterns and designs on glass and metal, including jewelry. Nitric acid is also used in some types of liquid fueled rockets!
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