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Nik Kyklo

NaNO2 safety question

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I just bought for the first time some NaNO2 (Sodium Nitrate) to test it, how it works on spruce and maple. I had a bad relationship with chemistry since I was in school so I would like to know how safe is its use and how to use it. It is 1kg in a bag ( I bought it really cheap  6-7Euros). I read here https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/sodium_nitrite that this is toxic, harmful etc. Should I have to use gloves, mask or anything else, can I store it inside the home? What else should I take care of?

Thank you

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The refractive index is a bit high for use as a ground under common violin varnishes, and the crystals do not appear to be transparent. So the traditionally desirable values for these two important properties are missing.

It is also highly soluble in water which may create other issues related to changes in humidity.

Small amounts are deadly to swine and poisonous to humans. Trace amounts added to meats reacts with chemicals in the meat to give the food a pleasing pink color, and it also inhibits the growth of bacteria.

 

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Just be clear on what you have.  I ordered the nitrite (NaNO2) and I received nitrate (NaNO3), which isn't the same stuff.  The nitrite is the one you put in water and apply to the wood (with UV before and after) to darken and enhance the grain.

I don't think it's super-dangerous, compared to many of the other chemicals that are often used in violin finishing.

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The formula you give is for the nitrite, not the nitrate.  Both are hygroscopic.  Given that both are added to sausage, you aren't dealing with cyanides or something else that requires a spacesuit for handling, but you shouldn't eat, inhale, or wallow in them in the pure state in large quantities (that's even true of common salt, BTW).   Please read the linked articles. :)

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Thank you all for your replies. What I received is NaNO2. The NaNO3 was much more expensive (about 60E per kilo). I read too that is used in meats somehow (better I didn't know it). 

6 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

sodium nitrate degrades wood which continues for a long time.

I had used on a viola vinegar with some iron wool in the past. The result was ok in first view but a bit green. After time it looks like it "eats" the varnish. I had use spirit varnish if I remember well. The result was very weird. If the NaNO2 has same effects of course I will not use it. 

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3 minutes ago, Nik Kyklo said:

Thank you all for your replies. What I received is NaNO2. The NaNO3 was much more expensive (about 60E per kilo). I read too that is used in meats somehow (better I didn't know it). 

I had used on a viola vinegar with some iron wool in the past. The result was ok in first view but a bit green. After time it looks like it "eats" the varnish. I had use spirit varnish if I remember well. The result was very weird. If the NaNO2 has same effects of course I will not use it. 

A number of makers use sodium nitrite and not sodium nitrate. I hope you understand  that they are VERY different chemicals.

:huh:

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On 4/13/2019 at 10:07 AM, Don Noon said:

Just be clear on what you have.  I ordered the nitrite (NaNO2) and I received nitrate (NaNO3), which isn't the same stuff.  The nitrite is the one you put in water and apply to the wood (with UV before and after) to darken and enhance the grain.

I don't think it's super-dangerous, compared to many of the other chemicals that are often used in violin finishing.

With some chemistry background and food science background.  Agreed with Don.

  Probably not too dangerous.  Take common sense precautions. Use gloves.  Wash hands.  Etc. 

Lots of confusion on these two these days.   Some of this I believe stems from the myths in the food world.   We eat NO3 Nitrates all the time.  Look at a package of hot dogs that says "uncured" or "no nitrates or nitrites added"  Look in the ingredients for celery root. Celery and other vegetables are packed with naturally occurring nitrates.  These nitrates NO3 are converted by heat to Nitrites NO2 that turn the meat pink (and prevent botulism).  So the food producers add celery root to avoid adding Nitrates or Nitrites even though they are still there. So we are all eating Nitrates and Nitrites in our meat even though it says we aren't.  This is probably not a bad thing.  

 Our bacteria in our mouth and gut also converts Nitrates NO3 to Nitrites NO2.   All this stems from a few very unclear studies that Nitrites NO2 at high heat (grilling) could cause nitrosamines that may cause cancer.  This fear of Nitrites is all very questionable and has very little evidence.  People usually little science background grasp on to what they want to believe and crate their own reality of fear.  The evidence is just not there. But, worth researching more.

Please don't eat your Sodium Nitrate or Nitrite even though you can buy it to cure meat (pink salt)  Also keep in mind NaNO3 and KNO3 are similar but will behave differently.   For instance KNO3 is used as an oxidzer in gunpowder.  ( have made some)

All these compounds are oxidizing things.  The Oxygen are reactive and are willing to react with other substances.  I believe NaNO3 is more reactive than NaNO2 because of that extra oxygen.

 

22 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I was warned that sodium nitrate degrades wood which continues for a long time.

I have heard that too but I am incredibly skeptical.  Someone feel free to teach me a lesson.  Don has more brains in his little pinky than I do in my whole body.  I use 1gr Sodium Nitrite /100g h20.  I have not calculated the molarity (that is a way a concentration is measured in chemistry) but I extremely confident the molarity is very very low.  This means that even IF all the Nitrates or Nitrites were converted to an acid, that acid content would also be extremely low.  We don't know if those Nitrates ARE converted to acids, they might not be.  Also, to the best of my knowledge (acids get complex)  when acids react with substances they get neutralized.  The reaction ends for the most part.  It is not like the acids just wander around constantly destroying other molecules.  

So

Low molarity concentration of NO3 or NO2

Unsure of acid production

If acid production occurs, acid content is very  low also.

If acid reacts minimal damage and reaction ends.

I'm doubting the acid theory. 

I would think we do much worse things to our wood like baking it, heating it on bending irons, exposing it to UV etc. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

A number of makers use sodium nitrite and not sodium nitrate. I hope you understand  that they are VERY different chemicals.

:huh:

Many also use saltpeter - a nitrate -  whether "homebrewed" or lab grade, as an oxidizer to good result. I only have experience with potassium salts in this case, and prefer the nitrate to the nitrite. Not challenging you, Mike, just throwing more variables into the equation 

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45 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Many also use saltpeter - a nitrate -  whether "homebrewed" or lab grade, as an oxidizer to good result. I only have experience with potassium salts in this case, and prefer the nitrate to the nitrite. Not challenging you, Mike, just throwing more variables into the equation 

Saltpeter KNO3   Used in Gunpowder.  No reason I know of that it can't be used in violin making.

Both these compounds dissociate in water.  That is NaNO3 will become Na+ and NO3- separately floating around in solution.   Then the NO3- will  be free react to what it wants.

Once the solution drys on the wood, the NO3- if there is any left from reacting, will not be able to move around in the wood, or interact as easily.   What is it reacting with?  I don't know.

NaNO3 is more soluble at room temperature than KNO3.   That means there will be more NO3- roaming around oxidizing things.   In theory the NO3- should be more reactive at the same concentrations (molarity not weight).  

 

Are the any other interactions the KNO3 is doing differently?  I don't know.   There are reasons why KNO3 is preferred in gunpowder over the inferior NaNO3. I think they have to do with thermodynamics and attracting moisture. 

So Mike is right.  They are different.  KNO3. KNO2.  NaNO3  NaNO2 How different?  It depends.  They are also very similar in some ways.  Both are salts.  Both give up a reactive NO3-.   Is the Na+ or K+ reacting with the wood or reacting with a secondary product?  Who knows.   Chemistry is complex. I only know some basics.

 

Jackson, why do you like the nitrate more?   I was advised the nitrate NO3 was too reactive and can harm the wood, which I am skeptical to some extent also.  I use the nitrite NO2 to be on the safe side. 

 

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Hey Joe,

I like the nitrate best for pretty stupid reasons, if I'm being honest. 

1) it's the major active component of the foul "horse sauce" that many makers produce and use to great effect and doesn't reek like Satan's bunghole.

2) it's what I had in the lab, and gives me a nice boost to my tanning when I spritz a 5% solution on once or twice a day

 

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6 hours ago, Joe Wiese said:
On 4/13/2019 at 5:21 PM, Michael_Molnar said:

I was warned that sodium nitrate degrades wood which continues for a long time.

I have heard that too but I am incredibly skeptical.  Someone feel free to teach me a lesson.  Don has more brains in his little pinky than I do in my whole body.  I use 1gr Sodium Nitrite /100g h20.  I have not calculated the molarity (that is a way a concentration is measured in chemistry) but I extremely confident the molarity is very very low.  This means that even IF all the Nitrates or Nitrites were converted to an acid, that acid content would also be extremely low.  We don't know if those Nitrates ARE converted to acids, they might not be.  Also, to the best of my knowledge (acids get complex)  when acids react with substances they get neutralized.  The reaction ends for the most part.  It is not like the acids just wander around constantly destroying other molecules.  

I've used KNO3 on few stumps. I believe it works by two processes - one is adding oxygen to cellulose (or perhaps creating something similar to nitrocellulose) as stump thoroughly treated with this when set to fire will burn down into roots without adding fuel after initial starting of fire. The other one is the stuff seems to work as fertilizer for rot and the decay is much faster than when left to nature. I applied it to large walnut sump in garden and after one year the stump is getting soft enough from rot that I can tear lumps of wood with my bare hand (I didn't try to burn it as it is close to neighbors house and it would produce smoke for few days in a row).

But one most important differences is that it is added in large quantities to stump and kept wet for long periods so it soaks right through the wood in all directions and the reactions take place. In violin making the solution is very weak and not left wet. The question is what the UV does with the chemical in the wood (perhaps the result is somewhat different to nitric acid treatment but at very very low and controlled amounts). I  wonder whether that "dung brew" few folks use contains lot of nitrates or nitrides? Anyone analyzed it?

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The biggest safety hazard I'm seeing here is lack of knowledge.  The active agent from either salt in solution is the NO3 ("nitrate") ion (produced in smaller quantities than from the nitrate, and in a slightly complicated reaction, from the nitrite), which combines with hydrogen from the water to form nitric acid.  This means that when you use either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate as a colorant, you are oxidizing your wood with a very dilute solution of nitric acid, to which all of the usual cautions about corrosion and nitration apply.  IMHO, y'all should have known this to begin with.  BTW, nitrides have nothing to do with any of this. :rolleyes:

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20 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Hey, Gang. I'm sharing information from a guy who knows what he is talking about. He may jump in here, but that is his prerogative. 

Hey, I'm open to any corrections!   But, I do have a University Chem/Biology background. I'm just not seeing the pathway to destruction.   If you get that fellow in here, please have him set me straight.  I have no ego.    I'd like to see some rational thinking that contradicts my thought process though.   I have asked around to my chemistry friends they are backing up my rational.  They did say that nitric acid could (not would) be produced but with the concentrations we would use on wood, it would be little effect and then be neutralized.   Also, lets not forget in this discussion of that generally we are talking of small concentrations of NaNO3 or NaNO2  How small is small.  I use 1gr/100ml of water. 

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20 hours ago, HoGo said:

I've used KNO3 on few stumps. I believe it works by two processes - one is adding oxygen to cellulose (or perhaps creating something similar to nitrocellulose) as stump thoroughly treated with this when set to fire will burn down into roots without adding fuel after initial starting of fire. The other one is the stuff seems to work as fertilizer for rot and the decay is much faster than when left to nature. I applied it to large walnut sump in garden and after one year the stump is getting soft enough from rot that I can tear lumps of wood with my bare hand (I didn't try to burn it as it is close to neighbors house and it would produce smoke for few days in a row).

But one most important differences is that it is added in large quantities to stump and kept wet for long periods so it soaks right through the wood in all directions and the reactions take place. In violin making the solution is very weak and not left wet. The question is what the UV does with the chemical in the wood (perhaps the result is somewhat different to nitric acid treatment but at very very low and controlled amounts). I  wonder whether that "dung brew" few folks use contains lot of nitrates or nitrides? Anyone analyzed it?

Stump remover KNO3 and similar substances do two things.   First it provides oxygen which aerobic microbes like a lot.  That is why we turn a compost pile.  It also provides Nitrogen which fungus feed off of and they accelerate the decomposition of the stump.   Nitrogen is often the limiting nutrient for growth of many organisms.   

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3 minutes ago, Joe Wiese said:

Hey, I'm open to any corrections!   But, I do have a University Chem/Biology background. I'm just not seeing the pathway to destruction.   If you get that fellow in here, please have him set me straight.  I have no ego.    I'd like to see some rational thinking that contradicts my thought process though.   I have asked around to my chemistry friends they are backing up my rational.  They did say that nitric acid could (not would) be produced but with the concentrations we would use on wood, it would be little effect and then be neutralized.   Also, lets not forget in this discussion of that generally we are talking of small concentrations of NaNO3 or NaNO2  How small is small.  I use 1gr/100ml of water. 

I think the only way you're going to know is to do your own tests.  I use a 4% solution of sodium nitrite.  That's 2 g NaNO2 / 48 ml distilled water.  It's just as easy to weigh out the water, 1 ml water = 1 gram water.  I wipe on with a damp lint-free rag or brush depending where the solution is being applied and how much control I need.  I blot dry after some amount of seconds based on cut-offs of the same wood.  Some spruce reacts quickly especially at the end-grain.  You won't really know until you've treated with UV afterward.  Too much and you risk the wood turning grey.  Most of the solution gets tossed.  That's how little you actually use.  My guess is that NaNO3 will react stronger than NaNO2, and NaNO2 reacts fairly strong in a very dilute solution with a very short exposure (~5-10 secs.).   That said, I expect you would have less control of the reaction with NaNO3, but I haven't tried it.  I always shoot for not enough vs. too much because I can always do a second application.  I don't know how to undo an application.    I'm curious what works best for you.  Good luck.

-Jim    

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23 minutes ago, Joe Wiese said:

Hey, I'm open to any corrections!   But, I do have a University Chem/Biology background. I'm just not seeing the pathway to destruction.   If you get that fellow in here, please have him set me straight.  I have no ego.    I'd like to see some rational thinking that contradicts my thought process though.   I have asked around to my chemistry friends they are backing up my rational.  They did say that nitric acid could (not would) be produced but with the concentrations we would use on wood, it would be little effect and then be neutralized.   Also, lets not forget in this discussion of that generally we are talking of small concentrations of NaNO3 or NaNO2  How small is small.  I use 1gr/100ml of water. 

I do not have similar education, but I have learned to be wary of oxidizers, only from experience. If one can totally neutralize them after they have had their desired effects, that is appealing, but I haven't yet found that this can be done without producing highly hygroscopic  "salt' residues.

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26 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

The biggest safety hazard I'm seeing here is lack of knowledge.  The active agent from either salt in solution is the NO3 ("nitrate") ion (produced in smaller quantities than from the nitrate, and in a slightly complicated reaction, from the nitrite), which combines with hydrogen from the water to form nitric acid.  This means that when you use either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate as a colorant, you are oxidizing your wood with a very dilute solution of nitric acid, to which all of the usual cautions about corrosion and nitration apply.  IMHO, y'all should have known this to begin with.  BTW, nitrides have nothing to do with any of this. :rolleyes:

True in theory.  Not arguing.  Only seeking facts in our discussion.

Your posts have helped me through the years as I mostly lurk.  Thank you.

1.The molarity that we are using, the Nitrates or Nitrites are producing an incredibly tiny amount of acid. 

2. Also, not all the NO3 and NO2 will form an acid as the aqueous solution is in equilibrium.  (this could be driven to one end of the equation though, drying time will probably mater) 

3. Compare the mass of the NaNO3 or NaO2 to the mass of the wood you are applying it to.  I use a 1% NaN02/100ml of water. The weight of that is 101grams.  I apply maybe, 10 grams at best to my violin.  The back will weigh about 100gr.  Ribs 35gr (blocks don't count) Belly 70grams. Neck I'm not sure, say 50 grams.  So approximately 250gr of wood to 10grams of this 1% solution. That means I applied .1gr of NaN02 to 250 grams of wood.  That is a 1/2500 ratio.  There is no way that small amount of potential acid could damage that much wood. 

I am not sure at all what this reaction is doing to the "wood".  Oxidizing using acids? Maybe.   It could also be oxidizing using a free Oxygen from a secondary reaction. The NO3-/NO2- could also be reacting.  Also, what is reacting with what?  Minerals in the wood?  Hemicellulose?  Cellulose?  Glucose?  Other sugars?  Resins? Perhaps the wood itself has basic compounds which neutralize the potential H+ before it can even affect any structural components of the wood.    The list is endless.  We don't know what this reaction does only that it changes the color of the wood.  I don't think it is only the H+, if at all.  I suspect Oxygen, but do not know.  It is a guess.

A sour gummy worm will have more acid concentration.  Lemon juice would do more damage.  And, once that acids reacts it will be gone.  Chemical reaction is done.  We do far worse things to our wood. 

Also, I had forgot to mention before.  I have used 1%/100ml KNO2  with 1%/100ml bicarbonate.  I used the bicarbonate to neutralize any potential nitric acid produced.   My wood still changed color. That leads me to believe it is not at simple as H+ oxidizing things.  Those should have been neutralized but yet I still had color change.  Molarity was not the same so perhaps I still had H+.  In any case, with the small chance of significant acid being produced I just stopped using the Bicarbonate. 

I'm open to the possibility this will damage wood but

My background is in the Biological sciences including 3 semesters of inorganic chemistry. 2 semesters of Organic Chemistry. 1 semester of Biochem.  Other chem classes through the years.  I work with Chem most days to some extent. I  really am weak at chemistry but have the fundamentals.  Chemically I see little danger.

 

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Thank you all so much for your interest and your valuable information. It is a proof that this forum is a small treasure. Diogenes the Cynic philosopher (fragm. from Diogenes Laertius I think) said once: "The sun does not get dirty even if he gets into the toilets". (I remember the ancient text and maybe my translation is bad). In a messed up place like web, sun remains sun, here. I will try as mentioned the NaNO2. 

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2 hours ago, Joe Wiese said:

Hey, I'm open to any corrections!   But, I do have a University Chem/Biology background. I'm just not seeing the pathway to destruction.   If you get that fellow in here, please have him set me straight.  I have no ego.    I'd like to see some rational thinking that contradicts my thought process though.   I have asked around to my chemistry friends they are backing up my rational.  They did say that nitric acid could (not would) be produced but with the concentrations we would use on wood, it would be little effect and then be neutralized.   Also, lets not forget in this discussion of that generally we are talking of small concentrations of NaNO3 or NaNO2  How small is small.  I use 1gr/100ml of water. 

I sent your reply to my source. I think you know him.

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

I do not have similar education, but I have learned to be wary of oxidizers, only from experience. If one can totally neutralize them after they have had their desired effects, that is appealing, but I haven't yet found that this can be done without producing highly hygroscopic  "salt' residues.

I agree, truly.   Good general advice.      I believe there are exceptions if used properly and if we are defining our substances correctly.  After all we oxidize wood in the air all the time.  Baking with Oxygen accelerates that process at least on the surface.  Oxidizing is when one substance loses an electron.  Oxygen is very good at getting substances to do this, but there are hundreds if not thousands of other oxidizers out there that have nothing to do with oxygen.  It depends. 

  Your statement might be alluding to a  probable myth that I have seen on Maestronet many times.  That is that once these compounds (whatever they are) are applied to wood they continue to work and will continue to do damage forever.  In general, an oxidizer is used up in the chemical reaction and is converted to another substance.  If a person needs to "neutralize" an oxidizer they used too much in the first place.   The process ends.  An acid is neutralized into a salt.  The process ends.  In general, I know of nothing which can do a continuous chemical reaction over an over again without destroying itself.  Except for an enzyme which helps chemical reactions but are not directly part of them.   Once again, if some one has some good science that refutes what I say, please let me know.  I have no interest proving anyone right or wrong.  I'm not a wood expert or a restoration expert.  In fact I only build.  And I'm sure what David has seen in his experience is true.  I don't doubt that at all.  I'm just not sure if we are putting it in accurate wording or context based on the laws of chemistry. 

The real problem is we, including myself, are usually incomplete and inaccurate in conveying our ideas, especially in this writing format.  We use precise science terminology in inaccurate context and ways.  Throw in a couple hot heads and someone who thinks they know what they are talking about and who knows what is real?   There is no getting around it.  That is why scientific papers are so incredibly long and difficult to read.  That is also why there may be years in lag time between a discovery and publishing.  The precision is so important for clear communication.    Thank you David for all your posts over the years.  Not only have I enjoyed your wisdom but I have always respected your temperament.

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On 4/13/2019 at 12:02 PM, Violadamore said:

The formula you give is for the nitrite, not the nitrate.  Both are hygroscopic.  Given that both are added to sausage, you aren't dealing with cyanides or something else that requires a spacesuit for handling, but you shouldn't eat, inhale, or wallow in them in the pure state in large quantities (that's even true of common salt, BTW).   Please read the linked articles. :)

So all that swimming I did in the Great Salt Lake while a student?  Not such a great idea?  I did see a bunch of dead birds on the beach...:wacko:

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52 minutes ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

So all that swimming I did in the Great Salt Lake while a student?  Not such a great idea?  I did see a bunch of dead birds on the beach...:wacko:

Perhaps those birds were not deceased, but in a deep meditative state? ;)

Joe W., is there some way to know when an oxidizer is "used up"? Would pH be any sort of clue?

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