Difference Between Nitrite and Nitrate

Nitrite and Nitrate

Nitrite and Nitrate are used interchangeably because of their similar pronunciation and spelling. Both are inorganic compounds composed of nitrogen and oxygen. It is the number of oxygen atoms that bring out the difference in the structure, shape and function. Nitrites have one nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms, while nitrates have one nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms.

A nitrite can become a nitrate by the process of oxidation and similarly, a nitrate can become a nitrite by the process of reduction.

Difference Between Nitrite and Nitrate

Nitrite Nitrate
Made up of a nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms Made up of a nitrogen atom and three oxygen atoms
The oxidation number of nitrogen in nitrites is +3 The oxidation number of nitrogen in nitrates is +5
Forms a weak acid known as nitrous acid Forms a strong acid known as nitric acid
Has a bent molecular geometry shape Trigonal plane geometry shape
Oxidised to form nitrates Reduced to form nitrites
Used in food preservatives Used in fertilizers and explosives