Fuming HNO3 is the chemical formulation for Fuming Nitric Acid.  Fuming HNO3 is also commonly referred to as Fuming Aqua Fortis and Fuming Spirit of Nitre, these being old names given to the substance in bygone days. 

The history of Fuming HNO3 goes back as far as the Middle Ages when early alchemists produced it from a mixture of Saltpeter and sand distilled by a hot fire.  As the gas generated cooled and condensed, it produced a liquid known as HNO3.  the acid was an important substance for early alchemists due to its ability to dissolve many metals including silver.  The literal translation of the old Latin name Aqua Fortis is 'strong water'.

Fuming HNO3Fuming HNO3 is highly Corrosive and Toxic.  The material is classified as Fuming when it contains more than 86% Nitric.  Depending on the amount of Nitrogen Dioxide in the solution, Fuming HNO3 can either be Red Fuming HNO3 or White Fuming HNO3.  Red Fuming HNO3 must contain a minimum of 10% Nitrogen Dioxide, whilst White Fuming HNO3 must contain no more than 2% water and 0.5% Nitogren Dioxide. 

One of the most significant properties of Red or White Fuming HNO3 is its ability to corrode metal.  In order to overcome this potential problem, Hydrogen Fluoride can be added at about 0.6% to act as an inhibitor.  This works by forming a metal fluoride on the surface.

Corrosive and Toxic substance,

As a highly Corrosive and Toxic substance, strict legislation governs the manufacture, packaging, labelling and transport of the material and further details of these can be found on the relevant pages of this website.  Current classifications are governed by the CHIP Regulations which are valid until 1 December 2010 after which time the classification of the acid will be governed by the new CLP Regulation 1272/2008 and the new GHS System (the Globally Harmonised System).

Limits for the Corrosive nature of the product will remain the same but the level of concentration for Oxidising will drop to 65%.  Safety Phrases and Safety Symbols will also change at this time, full details of which can be found on the Labelling section of this website.

Hazardous nature

Due to its hazardous nature, it is essential that Personal Protective Equipoment (PPE) is used when handling Fuming HNO3.  This will include approved safety glasses or goggles or a face mask, gloves, protective clothing and approved safety shoes or boots.  Fuming HNO3 should always be handled within the confines of a fume cupboard as the fumes generated by Fuming HNO3 are particularly damaging to the soft tissue of the nasal passages, respiratory system, digestive tract, stomach and lungs.  Fuming HNO3 can cause permanent damage to eyes or skin and even dilute HNO3 solutions should never be allowed to come into direct contact with skin. 

To learn more about safety and hazards of Fuming HNO3 please refer to the relevant pages of this website, where you will also find information on the uses and manufacture of Fuming HNO3.  Please also refer to the pages on Fuming Aqua Fortis, Fuming Nitric Acid and Fuming Spirit of Nitre for further information.