Nitro Compounds

An Introduction to Nitro Compounds

Nitrogen is necessary for all living beings, and it forms a vital constituent of cells in the form of proteins, DNA, RNA and amino acids. Nitrogen forms complex compounds, such as nitrous oxides and ammonia, which gets used in various industrial and clinical purposes. Mostly, nitro compounds find their applications to produce fertilisers for promoting crop growth.

If you are studying about these complexes, you must not skip learning about nitro compounds properties. Learn related conceptions with great detail to score well in your exams.

What is Nitrogen Compound?

Nitrogen forms many different types of compounds, such as ammonia, nitrous oxides, cyanide, etc. Azides can be inorganic or organic compounds of nitrogen, which comprises of three nitrogen atoms within a group (N3).  The compounds comprising of nitrogen arise from a chemical reaction known as nitration, which happens when nitric acts react with an organic compound.

In nature, nitrogen complexes form through various processes, such as nitrification and de-nitrification. 

Through nitrification, nitrogen-fixing bacterias present within the soil help in the conversion of ammonia into nitrite. This, in turn, gets converted into nitrates. These complex compounds are taken up by the plants and used in forming animal and plant proteins.

De-nitrification is a process where de-nitrifying bacteria helps in completing the nitrogen cycle through the conversion of nitrate (NO3) back into nitrogen gas (N2). They release nitrogen gas back into the atmosphere from nitrates by removing oxygen.

Read from below about some common types of nitrogen compounds. These include: 

Name of the Compounds


Ammonia gas


Nitric oxide 


Ammonium (ion)


Nitrous oxide


Nitrogen dioxide








Properties of Nitrogen Compounds

Nitrogen compounds occur when nitrous action acts on any organic compound through nitration. Some of the nitro compounds properties are as follows:


  • Ammonia, one of the nitrogen consisting compounds, is a colourless gas having a strong, sharp smell. 

  • It has a boiling point of 33.35 degree Celsius and a freezing point of 77.7 degree Celsius along with high vaporisation.

  • A molecule of ammonia comprises of three atoms of hydrogen and a single nitrogen atom.

  • Ammonia is a polar molecule attached with strong intermolecular forces due to hydrogen bonding.

Nitrous Oxide: 

  •  At normal temperatures, it is heavier than gas having a specific gravity more than 1.53 times.

  • At room temperature, it exists in a gaseous state, whereas it becomes a liquid after being compressed in a cylinder.

  • The boiling point of nitrous oxide is -89 degree Celsius, and its density equals to 1.22g/cm3.

  • At normal temperature, it occurs as a gas without any colour with a sweet smell and taste.

  • It is also known popularly as laughing gas because when anyone inhales it, produces continuous laughter along with insensibility to pain.

  • Di-nitrogen oxide is highly insoluble in water and blood.

  • Moreover, it is not flammable, although it allows the combustion of other materials when it comes in close contact with them.


  • Mostly, all nitrate salts get dissolved in water quickly.

  • Nitrates are nitrogen-based compounds formed due to reduction of a proton from nitric acid (HNO3).

  • The molecular weight of this nitrogen comprising compounds is 62.005 g/mol.

  • The number of hydrogen bond donors and acceptors is 0 and 3, respectively.

  • The di-nitrogen oxide’s exact mass accounts to 61.987818 g/mol same as its mono-isotopic mass.


  • Nitrites are nitrogen-based compounds formed because of the deduction of a proton from nitrous acid. 

  • At normal temperatures, it appears as a solution without any colour or crystalline solids.

  • It is usually denser than water.

  • When this nitrate compound comes in close contact with eyes, skin or nose, it may result in irritation. It is also harmful if consumed.

  • The molecular weight of this nitrogen compound accounts to 46.006 g/mol.

  • Its number of hydrogen bond donor and acceptor equal to 0 and 3 similar to nitrates, respectively.

  • The exact mass of this nitrogen comprising compound amounts to 45.992903 g/mol similar to its mono-isotopic mass.

  • The number of nitrites heavy atom is 3, whereas the number of isotope atom amounts to 0.


  • Urea, an organic nitrogen-based compound, forming within the liver, gets dissolved quickly. Usually, minimal amounts of urea get exhibited through human sweat.

  • The molecular weight of urea (nitrogenous compound) accounts to 60.056 g/mol.

  • The exact mass of this nitrogen comprising compound equals to 60.032363 g/mol identical to the mono-isotopic mass of urea.

  • The number of heavy atom amounts to 4, whereas the number of isotope atom amounts to 0.

  • The complexity of this nitrogen compound amounts to 29.

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Applications of Nitrogen Compounds

Nitrogen-based compounds find various uses. Read these popular applications to know more:

  • Nitric acid (HNO3) is a compound comprising of nitrogen, used in the manufacture of fertilisers, plastics and dyes.

  • Pyrazines, a cyclic compound comprising of nitrogen acts as a flavour enhancer of many baked and natural foods. They also add to the aroma in grapes and wines.

  • Ammonia gets mostly used in the manufacture of fertilisers, and various industrial activities.

  • Di-nitrogen oxide also gets used as a fuel in most of the food aerosols. In racing automobiles, it gets used in engines.

  • Nitrous oxide (N2O) also popularly known as laughing gas, gets used for anaesthesia in hospitals and dental applications due to its clinical properties.

  • Nitric acid also finds its applications in the production of explosives like nitroglycerin. Nitroglycerin is a liquid used in the manufacture of dynamite. Also, it has applications in the military for construction purposes.

  • Urea, one of the well-known nitro compounds, gets used as a raw material in industries apart from use in fertilisers.


Apart from the clinical and industrial applications, nitro compounds also provide benefits to plants. These include:

  • As soon as nitrogen transforms into complex compounds, plants take these up from the soil to transfer them to other portions. These complexes also find applications in forming macromolecules (proteins and nucleic acids).

  • One of the primary applications of amines (one of the organic nitrogen compounds) is that it gets used as ammonium salts for promoting the growth of crops. Crops like sugarcane and rice require these salts for steady growth.

  • It also gets used in the manufacture of chlorophyll in plants which is an essential component for photosynthesis.

Interesting Facts about Chemical Nitrogen and its Compounds

  • Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas, and it is also a potential air pollutant. In terms of weight, it has an impact of 300 times more than carbon dioxide.

  • Nitrogen is a chemical element having a symbol (N) with a number of isotopes 4.

  • Nitrous oxide also finds uses in motor racing as it can enhance the power of the engine along with its speed.

  • Nitrogen has the atomic number 7, and it is a colourless non-metal gas without any odour.

  • Nitrogen is a tasteless gas present in all living organisms, such as human beings, plants and animals.

  • Nitrogen gas often gets used in place of carbon dioxide for storage of beer, as it can produce smaller bubble suitable for maintenance of liquor.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. What will be the amine ‘A’ when it acts with nitrous acid exhibiting an oily, yellowish substance?

  1. Aniline

  2. Tri-methylamine

  3. Methylphenylamine

  4. None of these

  1. What will be the formation when aniline reacts with chloroform (under alkaline circumstances)?

  1. Cyanide

  2. Phenyl isonitrile

  3. Isocyanate

  4. None of them

  1. Which of these will not follow azo coupling reaction when it comes with benzene diazonium?

  1. Aniline

  2. Cyanide

  3. Nitrobenzene

  4. None of the above

Organic chemistry is a vast subject. Students often get confused because they do not have in-depth knowledge of the concepts. If you have any doubts related to nitro compounds class 12, just go through the above pointers carefully. You can also visit our website for live classes to understand the problematic concepts of Chemistry clearly. Now you can even download our Vedantu app for better access to these detailed study materials and online sessions.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why are nitrogen compounds explosive?

Ans. Compounds from the nitro group are explosive as they are highly unstable. It is because the triple bonding of nitrogen holding (N2) together is firm, generating a huge amount of energy.

2. What are the common compounds made from nitrogen?

Ans. Nitric acid (HNO3) is one of the popular nitro compounds used for commercial purposes. Urea (CH4N2O), ammonia (NH3) and ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) are examples of compounds comprising of nitrogen.

3. How can nitrogen compounds cause damage in your body?

Ans. Exposure to a considerable amount of ammonia can be toxic for the human frame as it causes lung damage, burning sensation to the eyes or throat, etc. Additionally, nitrogen oxides also result in irritation to the respiratory tract, nausea, and difficulty in breathing, etc.

4. What are the applications of nitrogen compounds?

Ans. Mostly, nitro compounds get used in fuels and manufacture of explosives. Some compounds like ammonia find its applications in the preparation of various industrial processes, whereas nitric acid gets used in the manufacture of drugs, fertilisers, etc.