Zinc Nitrate: Structure, Properties, Obtaining, Uses

The zinc nitrate is an inorganic compound consisting of the elements zinc (Zn), nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O). The oxidation state of zinc is +2, that of nitrogen is +5, and that of oxygen is -2.

Its chemical formula is Zn (NO 3 ) 2 . It is a colorless crystalline solid that tends to absorb water from the environment. It can be obtained by treating zinc metal with dilute nitric acid. It is a strongly oxidizing compound.

It serves as an accelerator of organic chemistry reactions and makes it possible to obtain composite polymers with electrically conductive properties. It is used to form layers of materials useful in electronics.

It is part of some liquid fertilizers and certain slow-release herbicides. It helps in the preparation of complex oxides, improving their density and electrical conductivity.

It has been successfully tested in obtaining structures that serve as the basis for regeneration and growth of bone tissue, improving this process and being effective as an antibacterial.

Although it is not combustible, it can accelerate the burning of substances that are, such as coal or organic materials. It is irritating to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, and it is very toxic to aquatic life.


Zinc nitrate is an ionic compound. It has a bivalent cation (Zn 2+ ) and two monovalent anions (NO 3 ). Nitrate anion is a polyatomic ion formed by a nitrogen atom in its oxidation state +5 covalently bonded to three oxygen atoms with a valence of -2.

The image below shows the spatial structure of this compound. The central gray sphere is zinc, the blue spheres are nitrogen, and the red spheres represent oxygen.


  • Zinc nitrate
  • Zinc dinitrate


Physical state

Colorless or white crystalline solid.

Molecular weight

189.40 g / mol

Melting point

Approximately 110 ºC.

Boiling point

Approximately 125 ºC.


2,065 g / cm 3


Soluble in water: 120 g / 100 g H 2 O at 25 ° C. Soluble in alcohol.


Its aqueous solutions are acidic. A 5% solution has a pH of approximately 5.

Chemical properties

Being a nitrate this compound is a strong oxidant. Reacts violently with carbon, copper, metal sulfides, organic matter , phosphorus, and sulfur. If sprayed on hot coal it explodes.

On the other hand, it is hygroscopic and absorbs water from the environment. If heated, forms zinc oxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxygen:

2 Zn (NO 3 ) 2  + heat → 2 ZnO + 4 NO 2 ↑ + O 2

In alkaline solutions, such as those of NaOH, the zinc in this compound forms its hydroxide and other complex species:

Zn (NO 3 ) 2 + 2 OH → Zn (OH) 2 + 2 NO 3

Zn (OH) 2 + 2 OH → [Zn (OH) 4 ] 2-


It can be obtained by treating zinc or zinc oxide with dilute nitric acid. Hydrogen gas is formed in this reaction.

Zn + 2 HNO 3 → Zn (NO 3 ) 2 + H 2


In catalysis of reactions

It is used as a catalyst to obtain other chemical compounds such as resins and polymers. It is an acid catalyst.

Another case of reaction acceleration is the Zn (NO 3 ) 2 / VOC 2 O 4 catalytic system , which allows the oxidation of α-hydroxyesters to α-ketoesters with a 99% conversion even at ambient pressure and temperature.

In composite polymers

Polymethylmethacrylate and Zn (NO 3 ) 2 films have been developed with electrical conductivity properties that make them suitable candidates for use in supercapacitors and high-speed computers.

In oxisales cements

With aqueous solutions of zinc nitrate and zinc oxide powder, materials that belong to the class of cements generated by an acid-base reaction are obtained.

These have a reasonable resistance to dissolving in dilute acids and alkalis, developing a resistance to compression comparable to that of other cements such as zinc oxychlorides.

This property increases when the ZnO / Zn (NO 3 ) 2 ratio increases , and when the concentration of Zn (NO 3 ) 2 in the solution increases. The cements obtained are completely amorphous, that is, they do not have crystals.

In zinc oxide coatings and nanomaterials

Zn (NO 3 ) 2 is used for the electrolytic deposition of very thin layers of zinc oxide (ZnO) on various substrates. Nanostructures of this oxide are also prepared on the surfaces.

ZnO is a material of great interest due to the multitude of applications in the field of optoelectronics, it also has semiconductor properties and is used in sensors and transducers.

In herbicides

Zinc nitrate has been used in conjunction with some organic compounds to slow the release rate of certain herbicides into water. The slow release of these products allows them to be available for a longer time and fewer applications are required.

In anode manufacturing

It stimulates the sintering process and improves the density of certain oxides that are used to make anodes for fuel cells. Sintering is obtaining a solid material by heating and compressing a powder without reaching its fusion.

The materials that have been tested are complex oxides of strontium, iridium, iron and titanium. The presence of zinc significantly increases the electrical conductivity of these.

Other apps

It is used in obtaining drugs. It acts as a mordant in the application of inks and colorants. Serves as a latex coagulant. It is a source of zinc and nitrogen in liquid fertilizers.

Potential use in bone tissue engineering

This compound has been used as an additive in the elaboration of frameworks or frameworks for the regeneration of bone fibers, as it allows to improve the mechanical resistance of these structures.

The zinc-containing scaffold has been found to be non-toxic to osteoprogenitor cells, supports the activity of osteoblasts, the bone-making cells, and improves their adhesion and proliferation.

It favors the formation of apatite, which is the mineral that forms bones, and also has an antibacterial effect.


It is a material with a potential risk of fire and explosion.

It is not combustible but accelerates the burning of combustible materials. If a large amount of this compound is involved in a fire or if the combustible material is finely divided, an explosion can occur.

When subjected to strong heat, toxic gases of nitrogen oxides are produced. And if the exposure is carried out for a long time, it can explode.

It is irritating to the skin, can cause serious damage to the eyes, irritation to the respiratory tract, is toxic if swallowed and causes damage to the digestive tract.

Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.


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