Common name for potassium nitrate; in the context of geologic deposits, it may also be used to refer to other nitrate minerals such as calcium nitrate.

From the BioTech Dictionary at http://biotech.icmb.utexas.edu/. For further information see the BioTech homenode.

It is important to note that saltpeter was once believed to be an anaphrodisiac, and there have been rumors about large organizations (British and United States' armed forces, hare krishna, etc.) slipping it into the food and drink of unsuspecting subjects to make them easier to control. However, from what I have read, the claims of both the drugging and those of any anaphrodisiac effects of saltpeter are untrue.


Please /msg me before (or at least along with) downvotes. What's wrong with the w/u?

Salt`pe"ter, Salt`pe"tre, (), n. [F. salpetre, NL. sal petrae, literally, rock salt, or stone salt; Salt, and Petrify.] Chem.

Potassium nitrate; niter, a white crystalline substance, KNO3, having a cooling saline taste, obtained by leaching from certain soils in which it is produced by the process of nitrification (see Nitrification, 2). It is a strong oxidizer, is the chief constituent of gunpowder, and is also used as an antiseptic in curing meat, and in medicine as a diuretic, diaphoretic, and refrigerant.

Chili salpeter Chem., sodium nitrate (distinguished from potassium nitrate, or true salpeter), a white crystalline substance, NaNO3, having a cooling, saline, slightly bitter taste. It is obtained by leaching the soil of the rainless districts of Chili and Peru. It is deliquescent and cannot be used in gunpowder, but is employed in the production of nitric acid. Called also cubic niter. -- Saltpeter acid Chem., nitric acid; -- sometimes so called because made from saltpeter.

© Webster 1913.

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