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Ethyl nitrite

Ethyl nitrite
Ethyl nitrite structure
Chemical Name:
Ethyl nitrite
nitrousether;Ethy nitrite;ETHYL NITRITE;hyponitrousether;Nitrosyl ethoxide;nitrousethylether;sweetspiritofnitre;sweetspiritofniter;Nitrous acid ethyl;spiritofethylnitrite
Molecular Formula:
Formula Weight:
MOL File:

Ethyl nitrite Properties

Boiling point:
bp 17°
0.792 g/mL at 25 °C
refractive index 
n20/D 1.36
Flash point:
59 °F
storage temp. 
Aromatic; ethereal; characteristic.
CAS DataBase Reference
109-95-5(CAS DataBase Reference)
NIST Chemistry Reference
Nitrous acid, ethyl ester(109-95-5)
EPA Substance Registry System
Nitrous acid, ethyl ester(109-95-5)
  • Risk and Safety Statements
  • NFPA
Hazard Codes  F,Xn,E
Risk Statements  11-20/21/22-2
Safety Statements  7-16-35
RIDADR  UN 1194 3/PG 1
RTECS  RA0810000
HazardClass  3.1
PackingGroup  I
Hazardous Substances Data 109-95-5(Hazardous Substances Data)

NFPA 704

Diamond Hazard Value Description
3 4
Health   3 Short exposure could cause serious temporary or moderate residual injury (e.g. liquid hydrogen, sulfuric acid, calcium hypochlorite, hexafluorosilicic acid)
Flammability   4 Will rapidly or completely vaporize at normal atmospheric pressure and temperature, or is readily dispersed in air and will burn readily. Includes pyrophoric substances. Flash point below room temperature at 22.8 °C (73 °F). (e.g. acetylene, propane, hydrogen gas)
Instability   4 Readily capable of detonation or explosive decomposition at normal temperatures and pressures (e.g. nitroglycerin,chlorine dioxide, nitrogen triiodide)

(NFPA, 2010)

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Ethyl nitrite Chemical Properties,Uses,Production


The chemical compound ethyl nitrite is an alkyl nitrite. It may be prepared from ethanol
Ethyl nitrite is the main ingredient in a traditional ethanol-based South African remedy for colds and flu known as Witdulsies and sold in pharmacies. It is known as a traditional Afrikaans remedy and may have Dutch roots, as the same remedy is apparently made by the Germano-Dutch Amish people in the USA. However FDA has blocked over-the-counter sales of this same remedy, known in the USA as sweet nitrite or sweet spirit of nitre since 1980 .

Chemical Properties

Ethyl nitrite has a characteristic ether-like odor.

Chemical Properties

Yellowish volatile liquid.Soluble in alcohol and ether; decomposes in water. Narcotic in high concentration.


Organic reactions, synthetic flavoring.


From sodium nitrite in aqueous solution by displacing the acid with H2SO4 in the presence of ethyl alcohol; it forms azeotropic mixtures with isopentane (85%), amyl bromide (40%) and carbon disulfide (96%).

World Health Organization (WHO)

Ethyl nitrite was formerly available in over-the-counter preparations for use as a diaphoretic, a diuretic and an intestinal antispasmodic. In the 1970s its use was associated with cases of methaemoglobinaemia, some of which were fatal. This led to its withdrawal in 1980 by the United States Food and Drug Administration. WHO has no information regarding its current availability in pharmaceutical preparations.

General Description

A clear colorless to yellow liquid with a pleasant odor. Flammable over a wide range of vapor-air concentrations. Flash point -31°F. Less dense than water and insoluble in water. Vapors are heavier than air and narcotic in high concentrations. Produces toxic oxides of nitrogen during combustion.

Air & Water Reactions

Highly flammable. Vapors may ignite spontaneously and the reaction may reach explosive violence. Insoluble in water. Decomposes in water.

Reactivity Profile

ETHYL NITRITE is a powerful oxidizing agent. Highly dangerous in contact with acid or acid fumes. Dangerous when heated. Decomposes spontaneously at 194°F. Decomposed by light.


Highly flammable, dangerous, explodes.

Health Hazard

Inhalation or ingestion causes headache, increased pulse rate, decreased blood pressure, and unconsciousness. Contact with liquid irritates eyes and skin.

Fire Hazard

Flash Point (°F): -31 ℃; Flammable Limits in Air (%): 3 to >50; Fire Extinguishing Agents: Water dry chemical, carbon dioxide, water, foam; Fire Extinguishing Agents Not To Be Used: Not pertinent; Special Hazards of Combustion Products: Toxic oxides of nitrogen are generated; Behavior in Fire: Vapors are heavier than air and may travel a considerable distance to a source of ignition and flash back; can decompose violently above 194°F; containers may explode in a fire; Ignition Temperature (°F): 194; Electrical Hazard: Data not available; Burning Rate: 2.6 mm/min.

Chemical Reactivity

Reactivity with Water: No reaction; Reactivity with Common Materials: No reaction; Stability During Transport: Stable if stored in a cool place and not exposed to strong light; Neutralizing Agents for Acids and Caustics: Not pertinent; Polymerization: Not pertinent; Inhibitor of Polymerization: Not pertinent.

Safety Profile

Poison by inhalation and ingestion. Narcotic in high concentrations. Lowers blood pressure. Methemoglobinemia has been reported. A very dangerous fire and severe explosion hazard when exposed to heat or flame. A powerful oxidizer. May explode when heated above 90℃. Highly dangerous when heated to decomposition or on contact with acid or acid fumes. To fight fire, use foam, CO2, dry chemical, or water spray. When heated to decomposition it emits toxic fumes of NOx. See also NITRITES and ETHERS.

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