Inorganic or organic ester or salt of nitric acid, containing the (NO3-) ion. Nitrates are the most water soluble of all salts, and play a major part in nitrogen cycle and nitrate pollution. Inorganic nitrates are formed by bacteria and are an essential component of agricultural soil. Organic nitrates are manufactured compounds and, because they generate oxygen when heated, are used in explosives such as nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin.
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