Freshly prepared isopropyl nitrite
| IUPAC name
| Other names
Isopropyl alcohol nitrite
Nitrous acid, isopropyl ester
|Molar mass||89.09 g/mol|
|Appearance||Straw yellow liquid|
|Boiling point||41 °C (106 °F; 314 K)|
|Solubility||Miscible with acetone, diethyl ether, ethanol|
|Safety data sheet||Sigma-Aldrich|
|Flash point||-29 °C (-20.2 °F; 244 K)|
|Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):|
LD50 (Median dose)
| 300 mg/kg (mouse, oral)|
3,200 mg/kg (rabbit, oral)
980 mg/kg (rat, oral)
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Isopropyl nitrite is a highly flammable organic ester.
Isopropyl nitrite is straw yellow colour and has a sweet, pleasant smell. It is immiscible and less dense than water. Isopropyl nitrite has a very high vapour pressure and a low boiling point, although it will decompose on boiling to produce nitrogen oxides and isopropanol. A low flash point combined with the high vapour pressure means it is very easy to ignite.
Isopropyl nitrite is not readily available, and is better made in a home lab setting.
Concentrated hydrochloric acid is slowly dripped onto sodium nitrite suspended in isopropanol, generating nitrous acid which reacts with the alcohol. The concentration of isopropanol should be less than 100% to ensure the solution does not get too acidic (which will rapidly decompose the ester) and that some of the precipitate byproducts dissolve. Diluted sulfuric acid can also be used but this will result in a larger amount of precipitate due to sodium sulfate's lower solubility compared to sodium chloride.
Every reagent should be as cold as possible to limit decomposition to nitrogen oxides. An ice bath may be needed.
- Make sodium azide
- Antidote for hydrogen sulfide and cyanide poisonings
As well as being highly flammable, being an organic nitrite it promotes vascodilation in the body, pushing more blood to the brain. Hence breathing fumes of isopropyl nitrite can have some mild strange side effects that mostly end up in a headache. Proper ventaliation is required when using this compound.
In case of nitrite poisoning, small dosages of methylene blue are recommended (0.1 ml of 1% solution per kilogram of patient's weight, intravenously). Not to be confused with large dosages, which are toxic in the same way nitrites are, and are used to treat poisoning with blood agents like cyanides, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide (isopropyl nitrite itself can work as an antidote in these cases).
Storage is best done in a cold place such as a fridge or freezer, but care must be taken to prevent as the vapors travel quickly and can easily find a source of ignition.
If care is taken to make sure the ester does not contain any acid before storage, it will not quickly decompose and may be stored cold for many months.
Acid hydrolysis of the compound destroys it quickly, with the evolution of nitrogen oxides. It is recommended to either burn it or simply let it evaporate over pouring it down a sink, as its solvent properties may adversely affect a plumbing system.