# Are nitrates safe materials?

Potassium nitrate, $K N {O}_{3}$, is a potent oxidant, although its oxidative power is often masked in aqueous solution. As a material stored in the laboratory in small quantities it is stable, and reasonably safe. It will, however, accelerate any combustion, and one of its major uses is an accelerant in tobacco (to keep your cigarette alight!); ask a cigarette smoker if it's safe.