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Nitric acid (HNO3), also known as aqua fortis and spirit of niter, is a highly corrosive strong mineral acid. The pure compound is colorless, but older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to decomposition into oxides of nitrogen and water. Most commercially available nitric acid has a concentration of 68%. When the solution contains more than 86% HNO3, it is referred to as fuming nitric acid. Depending on the amount of nitrogen dioxide present, fuming nitric acid is further characterized as white fuming nitric acid or red fuming nitric acid, at concentrations above 95%. Nitric acid is the primary reagent used for nitration - the addition of a nitro group, typically to an organic molecule. While some resulting nitro compounds are shock- and thermally sensitive explosives, a few are stable enough to be used in munitions and demolition, while others are still more stable and used as pigments in inks and dyes. Nitric acid is also commonly used as a strong oxidizing agent.
Nitric acid is a highly toxic and corrosive acid that has an important role in a plethora of industries such as plastics manufacturing, textile and fertilizing industries. "Aqua fortis" and "aqua valens" are additional terminologies for nitric acid, meaning "strong water" and "spirit of fire," respectively. Being such a powerful chemical, nitric acid must be disposed of in a proper manner.