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Alkyl nitrites

Drugs & Medication

Alkyl nitrites

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Alkyl nitrites are compounds of structure R-ONO. Formally they are alkyl esters of nitrous acid.

The first few members of the series are volatile liquids; methyl and ethyl nitrite are gaseous at room temperature and pressure. The compounds have a distinctive fruity odor.

Preparation and use

Organic nitrites are prepared from alcohols and sodium nitrite in sulfuric acid solution. They decompose slowly on standing, the decomposition products being oxides of nitrogen, water, the alcohol, and polymerization products of the aldehyde.[1]

In the laboratory, solutions of alkyl nitrites in glacial acetic acid are sometimes used as mild nitrating agents. The nitrating species is acetyl nitrate generated in situ.

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