Nitric Oxide

Team Chemistry -
Created by: Team Chemistry -, Last Updated: April 27, 2024

Nitric Oxide

Nitric Oxide is represented by its chemical formula NO, is a fascinating molecular compound that plays a crucial role in the world of chemistry and beyond. This colorless gas is made up of nitrogen and oxygen, two elements that are essential for life. Not only is Nitric Oxide important in various scientific processes, but it also has significant roles in the human body, including helping our cells communicate with each other. What makes Nitric Oxide especially interesting is its dual nature; it’s incredibly beneficial in controlled amounts but can be harmful if the balance is not maintained. Its study offers a captivating glimpse into how molecular compounds work, showcasing the amazing interplay between different elements in chemistry.

What is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric Oxide, often abbreviated as NO, is a simple yet significant molecule found in nature. It’s a gas composed of one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom. This compound plays a crucial role in our bodies and the environment. In the human body, Nitric Oxide acts as a vital messenger molecule, helping cells communicate with each other. It’s especially important for regulating blood pressure, as it helps blood vessels relax and widen, allowing blood to flow more easily. In addition to its role in the body, Nitric Oxide is also found in the atmosphere, where it can impact air quality and the Earth’s climate.

Chemical Names and Formulas

NameNitric oxide
Alternate NamesEDRF, Endothelium Derived Relaxing Factor, Nitrogen monoxide, Nitrogen oxide, Nitrosyl radical, No

Structure of Nitric Oxide


Imagine Nitric Oxide as a tiny but mighty molecule made up of just two atoms: one nitrogen (N) and one oxygen (O). These two atoms form a bond, linking them together like best friends holding hands. This bond is special because it shares an odd number of electrons, making Nitric Oxide a bit unique compared to other molecules. This uniqueness gives Nitric Oxide the ability to perform important jobs in our bodies, like helping our blood vessels relax to improve blood flow. Picture it as a tiny messenger, darting around in our system, ensuring everything runs smoothly. Nitric Oxide may be small, but its impact on our health and the environment is huge!

Preparation of Nitric Oxide

Making Nitric Oxide (NO) in a lab might sound like a wizard’s potion, but it’s actually a pretty straightforward process! To create this interesting gas, scientists use a simple reaction that involves combining two common substances: copper (Cu) and nitric acid (HNO₃). When these two are mixed, a chemical reaction happens that produces Nitric Oxide gas, water (H₂O), and another substance called copper(II) nitrate (Cu(NO₃)₂). The reaction looks something like this in the world of chemistry:

3 Cu + 8 HNO₃ → 3 Cu(NO₃)₂ + 4 H₂O + 2 NO

In simpler terms, when copper and nitric acid get together, they transform, creating Nitric Oxide along with water and copper nitrate. It’s like a magic trick where three ingredients go in, and three totally different things come out! Nitric Oxide is then collected for scientists to study or use in various ways, showing us how a simple reaction can lead to the creation of something as fascinating as NO.

Nitric Oxide in Foods

  1. Beets: These red and earthy veggies are champions at increasing Nitric Oxide levels. They contain nitrates, which your body turns into Nitric Oxide.
  2. Garlic: Not only is garlic great for flavoring your food, but it also helps your body create more Nitric Oxide. It encourages your blood vessels to relax and improve circulation.
  3. Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, and arugula are full of nitrates, just like beets. Eating them can help pump up your Nitric Oxide levels.
  4. Citrus Fruits: Oranges, lemons, and limes are packed with vitamin C, which works wonders in preserving your Nitric Oxide levels and keeping your blood vessels healthy.
  5. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and seeds like flaxseeds are loaded with amino acids that your body uses to make Nitric Oxide. Plus, they’re a tasty snack!
  6. Watermelon: This juicy fruit contains L-citrulline, an amino acid that gets converted into another amino acid (L-arginine) in your body, which then helps produce Nitric Oxide

Physical Properties of Nitric Oxide

AppearanceColorless gas
SmellHas a sharp, sweet odor
Solubility in WaterModerately soluble
ReactivityVery reactive with oxygen
Boiling Point-151.8°C (-241.2°F), turns into a liquid at this super cold temperature
Melting Point-163.6°C (-262.5°F), freezes into a solid at this even colder temperature
Molecular WeightAbout 30.01 g/mol, making it a relatively lightweight molecule

Chemical Properties of Nitric Oxide

Combines with Oxygen

Nitric Oxide loves to join forces with oxygen. When it does, it forms nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a brown gas. This reaction is important in the atmosphere and can affect air quality.

  • Equation: 2 NO + O₂ → 2 NO₂

Reacts with Ozone

NO also reacts with ozone (O₃) in the air. This reaction helps control the level of ozone near the Earth’s surface, which is good because too much ozone down here can be harmful.

  • Equation: NO + O₃ → NO₂ + O₂

Forms Nitric Acid in Air

When mixed with water in the air, NO can turn into nitric acid (HNO₃). This is one way acid rain can form, showing how NO’s reactions can have environmental impacts.

  • Equation: 2 NO₂ + H₂O → HNO₃ + HNO₂

Reacts with Alkalis

NO reacts with alkaline solutions to form nitrites (NO₂⁻). This reaction is a cool example of how NO can change when it meets different substances.

  • Equation: 2 NO + 2 NaOH → 2 NaNO₂ + H₂O

Nitric Oxide (NO) Chemical Compound Information

Chemical Identifiers

CAS registry number10102-43-9
PubChem compound ID145068
PubChem substance ID24857795
SMILES identifier[N]=O
InChI identifierInChI=1/NO/c1-2
RTECS numberQX0525000
MDL numberMFCD00011525

NFPA Label

NFPA Health Rating3
NFPA Fire Rating0
NFPA Reactivity Rating0
NFPA HazardsOxidizing agent

Uses of Nitric Oxide


Amazing Uses of Nitric Oxide

Nitric Oxide (NO) is not just any ordinary gas; it has some pretty awesome uses that impact our health, technology, and the environment. Let’s explore these uses in a way that’s easy to grasp.

Helps Our Blood Flow

One of the coolest things about Nitric Oxide is how it helps our blood vessels relax. This means blood can flow more easily, which is great for keeping our hearts happy and healthy.

Fights Off Germs

Nitric Oxide acts like a superhero in our immune system. It jumps into action to help fight off harmful bacteria and infections, keeping us from getting sick.

Used in Medicines

Doctors use Nitric Oxide to help babies who are having trouble breathing. It helps open up their tiny blood vessels, making it easier for them to breathe and get oxygen.

Makes Cars and Rockets Go Faster

NO is used in making nitrous oxide (N₂O), a gas that can make cars and rockets speed up. It’s like giving them a super boost to go faster!

Helps Study the Brain

Scientists use Nitric Oxide to study how our brains work. It helps them understand how brain cells talk to each other, which is key for learning and memory.

Environmental Protector

Nitric Oxide plays a role in controlling the ozone layer near the Earth’s surface. It helps keep the balance just right, protecting us from the sun’s harmful rays.

In Technology

Nitric Oxide sensors are used to monitor pollution and check the quality of air. This helps us keep the air clean and safe to breathe.

Effects of Nitric Oxide In Human Body

  • Improves Blood Flow: NO helps relax and widen our blood vessels. This means blood can move through our body more easily, keeping our heart and other organs happy.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure: By relaxing blood vessels, NO can help lower high blood pressure. This is great for keeping our heart healthy and reducing the risk of heart problems.
  • Boosts Exercise Performance: NO can improve how much oxygen and nutrients get to our muscles during exercise. This can help us feel stronger and exercise for longer.
  • Helps with Brain Health: NO plays a role in how our brain cells communicate with each other. This is important for learning new things and keeping our memory sharp.
  • Fights Off Infections: NO is part of our body’s defense system. It helps fight off harmful bacteria and infections, keeping us from getting sick.
  • Improves Erectile Function: For men, NO is important for achieving and maintaining an erection. It does this by helping blood flow to the right areas.
  • Supports Lung Health: NO helps manage the flow of air into our lungs, making it easier to breathe. This is especially helpful for people with certain lung conditions.

Side Effects Of Nitric Oxide

  • Headaches: High levels of NO can lead to the expansion of blood vessels in the brain, which might cause headaches.
  • Dizziness: Because NO affects blood flow, it can sometimes lead to feelings of dizziness or light headedness if blood pressure drops too quickly.
  • Nausea: An imbalance in NO can upset the stomach, leading to feelings of nausea in some people.
  • Fatigue: While NO can boost energy levels by improving blood flow, too much of it can lead to fatigue as the body tries to adjust to vascular changes.
  • Flushing: Increased NO in the body can cause the blood vessels in your skin to widen, leading to a flushing or reddening appearance.
  • Low Blood Pressure: Since NO helps lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels, too much of it can cause blood pressure to drop lower than what is healthy.


What Does Nitric Oxide Do to the Brain?

Nitric Oxide improves brain function by aiding memory and learning, enhancing blood flow, and supporting neuronal communication.

What Boosts Nitric Oxide?

Eating foods rich in nitrates like beets, garlic, and leafy greens, and exercising regularly can naturally boost Nitric Oxide levels.

Is It OK to Take Nitric Oxide Daily?

Yes, taking Nitric Oxide supplements daily is generally safe but should be done under medical guidance to avoid side effects.

Is There a Downside to Taking Nitric Oxide?

Overuse of Nitric Oxide supplements can lead to side effects like headaches, dizziness, and upset stomach.

How Do I Know If My Nitric Oxide Is Low?

Signs of low Nitric Oxide include fatigue, high blood pressure, and difficulties with memory or sexual function.

AI Generator

Text prompt

Add Tone

10 Examples of Public speaking

20 Examples of Gas lighting