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Sodium nitrate price index

This post is a summary of the Sodium nitrate price developments. The price developments of Sodium nitrate are expressed in US$ prices converted FX rates applicable at the time when the price was valid. Sodium nitrate price index developments are calculated from multiple separate sources of data to ensure statistical accuracy.

The outlook for Sodium nitrate prices, on the second tab, is generated from different inputs including:

  • Very recent price developments of immediate cost drivers of Sodium nitrate prices
  • Recent price developments of underlying feedstocks which drive the price of Sodium nitrate
  • Market futures for both cost drives and feedstocks of Sodium nitrate prices
  • Adjustment of current supply/demand imbalances in the Sodium nitrate market
  • Longer term trends in likely demand conditions

Further information on the Sodium nitrate price chart

 

What is sodium nitrate

Sodium nitrate (NaNO3) is a white crystalline compound that is commonly used in the production of fertilizers, food preservatives, and pyrotechnics. It is also known as Chile saltpeter, and it occurs naturally in some regions of Chile, where it was historically mined for its use in explosives and fertilizers.

Sodium nitrate is a strong oxidizing agent, which means it has the ability to transfer oxygen atoms to other substances. This property makes it useful in the production of pyrotechnics and explosives, where it is often mixed with other chemicals to create highly reactive compounds.

In the food industry, sodium nitrate is used as a preservative in cured meats, such as bacon and ham. It helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and can also enhance the color and flavor of the meat.

However, there are concerns about the potential health risks associated with high levels of sodium nitrate consumption. In large quantities, it can cause methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the blood is unable to transport oxygen effectively. Therefore, the use of sodium nitrate in food products is regulated and limited by health and safety authorities in many countries.

 

How is sodium nitrate  produced

Sodium nitrate, also known as Chile saltpeter, can be produced using several methods, including:

Natural deposits

Historically, sodium nitrate was mined from natural deposits in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The mineral was extracted using a process called heap leaching, where water is applied to the mineral-rich soil to dissolve the sodium nitrate, which is then collected and purified.

Synthesis from nitric acid and sodium hydroxide

Sodium nitrate can also be produced by reacting nitric acid (HNO3) with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to form sodium nitrate (NaNO3) and water (H2O). This method is known as the neutralization process.

Synthesis from ammonia and nitric acid

Another method of producing sodium nitrate involves reacting ammonia (NH3) with nitric acid (HNO3) to form ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), which is then heated to decompose into sodium nitrate and water.

Synthesis from nitrogen gas and sodium hydroxide

Sodium nitrate can also be produced by reacting nitrogen gas (N2) with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) in the presence of a catalyst, such as iron or nickel. This method is known as the Haber process and is commonly used to produce ammonia for fertilizer production.

The method used to produce sodium nitrate depends on the availability of raw materials and the desired purity of the final product.

 

What is sodium nitrate used for

Sodium nitrate (NaNO3) is used for a variety of applications across several industries, including:

Fertilizers

Sodium nitrate is used as a nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture to provide essential nutrients for plant growth. It is also used in the production of other nitrogen fertilizers like ammonium nitrate and urea.

Food preservatives

Sodium nitrate is used as a food preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms in cured meat products like bacon, ham, and sausages.

Glass manufacturing

Sodium nitrate is used as a flux in the production of glass, where it helps to lower the melting point of the glass and improve its clarity.

Industrial chemicals

Sodium nitrate is used in the production of several industrial chemicals, including nitric acid, potassium nitrate, and ammonium nitrate. It is also used in the production of explosives, such as dynamite and gunpowder.

Heat transfer fluids

Sodium nitrate is used as a heat transfer fluid in solar power plants, where it is used to store and transfer heat generated by the sun to power turbines and generate electricity.

Other applications

Sodium nitrate is also used as a metal surface treatment, in the production of ceramic glazes, and as a component in rocket propellants.

 

What types of sodium nitrate are there

There are several types of sodium nitrate that differ in their physical and chemical properties. Some of the common types of sodium nitrate are:

Technical grade sodium nitrate

This type of sodium nitrate is commonly used in the production of fertilizers and industrial chemicals. It has a purity level of around 95-98% and may contain impurities such as chloride, sulfate, and iron.

Food grade sodium nitrate

This type of sodium nitrate is used as a food preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria in cured meat products. It has a higher level of purity than technical grade sodium nitrate and is free from harmful impurities.

Pharmaceutical grade sodium nitrate

This type of sodium nitrate is used in the pharmaceutical industry as a vasodilator to treat angina pectoris, a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart.

Agricultural grade sodium nitrate

This type of sodium nitrate is used as a nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture to provide essential nutrients for plant growth. It has a lower purity level than technical grade sodium nitrate and may contain impurities such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Other grades

Sodium nitrate may also be available in other grades, such as laboratory grade for research purposes, and industrial grade for various industrial applications.

 

How big is the sodium nitrate market

The global sodium nitrate market size was valued at USD 7.0 billion in 2020, according to a report by Grand View Research. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1% from 2021 to 2028.

The growth of the market is driven by the increasing demand for sodium nitrate in several end-use industries, such as fertilizers, food preservatives, and industrial chemicals. In the agriculture industry, sodium nitrate is used as a nitrogen fertilizer, which is necessary for plant growth. Additionally, the use of sodium nitrate as a preservative in the food industry is expected to drive market growth, as the demand for processed and packaged food products continues to rise.

The Asia-Pacific region is the largest market for sodium nitrate, due to the high demand for fertilizers and industrial chemicals in countries like China and India. The region is expected to continue to dominate the market in the coming years, driven by the increasing population, urbanization, and industrialization in the region.

According to https://oec.world/ :

Sodium nitrate, in packs >10 kg are the world’s 3750th most traded product.

In 2020, the top exporters of Sodium nitrate, in packs >10 kg were Chile ($72.6M), Germany ($32.1M), China ($11.7M), Denmark ($6.86M), and Netherlands ($5.5M).

In 2020, the top importers of Sodium nitrate, in packs >10 kg were United Arab Emirates ($50.5M), United States ($16.2M), Netherlands ($7.47M), Japan ($7.3M), and Sweden ($6.42M).

 

Which countries produce the most sodium nitrate

Historically, Chile was the largest producer of sodium nitrate, also known as Chile saltpeter, due to the natural deposits of the mineral in the Atacama Desert. However, in recent years, the production of sodium nitrate has decreased in Chile due to the depletion of natural reserves and environmental concerns. Currently, the largest producers of sodium nitrate are:

China

China is currently the largest producer of sodium nitrate, with an estimated annual production capacity of over 5 million metric tons. The country’s high production is due to the large demand for the mineral in the production of fertilizers and industrial chemicals.

India

India is the second-largest producer of sodium nitrate, with an estimated annual production capacity of around 1 million metric tons. The country’s high production is due to the large demand for the mineral in the agriculture sector.

Germany

Germany is a significant producer of sodium nitrate, with an estimated annual production capacity of around 500,000 metric tons. The country’s high production is due to the strong demand for the mineral in the chemical industry.

United States

The United States is also a significant producer of sodium nitrate, with an estimated annual production capacity of around 300,000 metric tons. The high production is due to the demand for the mineral in the production of fertilizers and industrial chemicals.

Russia

Russia is another significant producer of sodium nitrate, with an estimated annual production capacity of around 250,000 metric tons. The country’s high production is due to the demand for the mineral in the agriculture and chemical industries.

 

Further reading

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