Human life could not be further away going without the help of its chemical substances. We all know that in order to keep on good living, there are many chemicals that we need in our body, as well as our properties. In this articles, we will talk further about this particular chemical substance called Sodium Nitrate. Let’s first establish the rule and not to confuse the terms between sodium nitrate (NaNO3) and sodium nitrite (NaNO2). Even though they are almost identical, those two are having major differences, be it in effects or its uses.
What is Sodium Nitrate
Sodium nitrate is the chemical compound with the formula of NaNO3. Belong to the group of alkali nitrate salt, sodium nitrate is also known as chile saltpeter. This is due to the fact that the major distribution of this compounds comes from Chile, and to differentiate between it and the other saltpeter (potassium nitrate). This mineral form is usually known as nitratite or soda niter.
Sodium nitrate doesn’t have color and odor. It is having crystalline compound and sometimes confused with sodium nitrite. Even though they are chemically similar, they have different properties and uses; technically speaking. We can use this particular compound for making potassium nitrate, fertilizers, explosives, high strength glass, pharmaceuticals, and to preserve meats. Sodium nitrate is a white solid and very soluble in water. Indeed, here are the list of sodium nitrate common uses:
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1. Preserving Meat
Sodium nitrate is a preservative that you can find in processed meats. You can find this particular compound in foods like hot dogs, bologna, salami, ham and other deli meats. Sodium nitrates prevents the growth of bacteria that ruins the meat and maintain its red color.
Usually, it is not added to the meat that is not red, such as tuna or chicken. Study has found that processed meats are actually not that healthy for your body. It can damage your blood vessels, making your arteries narrow, and this could leads to hearth disease. Other than that, you can actually damage your sugar process in the body and this could leads to diabetes. This is why it is important for us to limit our intake on process foods because it will not be healthy for our body.
You can use sodium nitrate as fertilizers for plants because it will allow your plants to grow quicker. This particular compound contains just enough nitrogen to catalyze the growth of the plants. However, be careful when applying it because too much nitrogen is not good for your plant. Too much nitrogen could make the plant a little bit slower when it comes to producing fruits, while too little of it could prevent the plant growth.
In the productivity of making high-strength glass, we can find that many people use sodium nitrate to strengthen the surface of the glass. There are two process of glass-making and the first step is to bath the glass into the sodium nitrate soluble. Glasses that are experiencing this process could be resistant to stretch and much more resistant to bending. Other than that, these glasses are more stable when it comes to temperature stability, so you will find that this glass won’t break easily even when being exposed to high temperature or low temperature to a certain degree.
Sodium nitrate is used in very limited usage in pharmaceutical. You can find it in eye-drops. However, usually this compound is used as a control mixture, not the main ingredients. This is due to the containment of nitrogen that is needed in the eyedrops. In 2005, National Institute of health reported that low concentrations of nitrite provided protection against injury that is being associated with heart attacks. The team compared the effects of nitrite vs control treatments of saline or nitrate. Nitrate is similar chemically to nitrite, but it cannot convert to nitric oxide in the blood, making it not having blood vessel dilating properties like nitrite does.
Sodium nitrate is an ingredient for rocket propellants. It is known to be used as substitute for potassium nitrate in black powder propellant. However, the performance of nitrate is usually less than potassium nitrate. Sodium nitrate is more difficult to work with when it comes to its ability to re-crystallized sugar rocketry.
As an ingredient in an explosive, sodium nitrate has various advantage though. It is fairly cheap (more affordable than potassium nitrate), non-toxic, stable, and non-poisonous. Unfortunately, sodium nitrate also has disadvantage which is having a slow burn rate compare to the potassium nitrate.
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Sodium Nitrate Health Effects
Now we know that sodium nitrate can be used in our foods. In fact, it is used often as meat preservative. It could maintain the color of redness in the meat so that it looks pretty and delicious every time. It prevents bacteria or germs to ruin the meat so you get double benefits here. However, as other food preservative, sodium nitrate is not without risk. If you are taking it consistently and often, it will exceed the healthy limit of intake and it will eventually cause various disease to your body. We don’t want that to happen, right?
So now, let’s take a look at what sodium nitrate can do to you if you keep consuming all of these process food that is containing this particular chemical compound.
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1. Heart Disease
If you make food that contains sodium nitrate in you everyday diet, you can expose yourself to the risk of developing heart disease. Salt in sodium nitrate would risk you to have heart disease. However, the nitrate itself is actually one of the common reason of damage in your heart. Sodium nitrate can make your blood vessels in around the heart to be disturbed, harden and narrow. This is very dangerous for your heart and make it more likely to you for developing heart disease.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
Harvard School of Public Health publish a study that announce the fact that when you eat processed meats contains sodium nitrate, you expose yourself to 19% higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, the fact that nitrates in sodium nitrate have the ability to reduce your glucose tolerance, and it will increasing the ability of getting diabetes. Type 2 diabetes symptoms are increased thirst, increased hunger, weight loss, fatigue, and blurred vision. It it left untreated, it could be a life threatening disease. When you limit your intake on deli meats, hot dogs, and bacon, you will also eventually decreasing your chance on getting this disease.
When you adopt diet that contains large amount of sodium nitrate, you will increase your chance on getting cancer. According to the book of “Food Factor” by Hajime Ogihashi, taking a large amount of sodium nitrate common uses could increase your chance on getting stomach cancer. Other than that, you could also get another cancer that are linked to your stomach; such as pancreatic cancer.
4. Neurological and intestinal problems
You could experience many negative symptoms in your body if you have consume large amount of sodium nitrate. These could expose you to headache, lightheaded and dizziness. Ingesting much sodium nitrate could also increase your risk of experiencing mental disorder and convulsions. Sodium nitrate in large composition can cause diarrhea that contains blood in it, gastroenteritis, and abdominal pain. You can also experiencing more chronic symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, irregular breathing and even coma.
So there you have it, the information on sodium nitrate uses and effects. As we can all see, it is never a good thing to consume process foods. Of course, once in a while, we might want to consume fast food that taste delicious and take very little effort to consume. However, if taken daily or excessively, it could only led to disaster and harm your body.
Many people believe that eating processed meats such as bacon, jerky, deli etc could actually be replaced by something much more healthy. Indeed, sodium nitrate common uses is for food preventative but nowadays, we can find many selections of food that are organic and healthy for us, no matter how regular we take it. It could be a wise choice if we want to choose to take that instead of taking the easy path of fast food and processed food. Healthy, fresh meats is always a better choice than processed and canned meat.