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Saltpetre is naturally occurring nitrate crystals that are soluble in water. It is found in surface deposits in many countries, or can be induced by mixing decaying organic matter with lime or through chemical solutions.

Saltpetre was used in curing but is no longer used commercially (though apparently trace elements are allowed in some jurisdictions) because it can be toxic in quantity. Instead, sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite is used. Saltpetre was also used for gunpowder.

There are actually three types of saltpetre, but the other two (chile saltpetre and wall-saltpetre) never had any application in cooking.

To compare, refer to See Also links below for:
    • Sodium Nitrate (NaNO3)
    • Sodium Nitrite (NaNO2)
    • Potassium Nitrite (KN02)

Language Notes

Saltpetre comes from two Latin words: "sal" for salt, and "petra" for rock. It's scientific name is Potassium Nitrate KNO3. Its E number is E252.

See also:

Preserving Salts

Dairy Salt; Morton's Tender Quick; Nitrite Pickling Salt; Pickling Salt; Prague Powder; Prague Powder; Saltpetre

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Also called:

E252; Potassium Nitrate; Nitrato di potassio, Salnitro (Italian)


Oulton, Randal. "Saltpetre." CooksInfo.com. Published 31 March 2004; revised 28 November 2010. Web. Accessed 12/15/2017. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/saltpetre>.

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