- This group contains amyl nitrite, ethyl nitrite, methyl nitrite, nitroglycerin, sodium and potassium nitrites, erythrol-tetranitrate, and many other compounds containing nitrous or nitric acid.
Complicated compounds, discovered by Roussin in 1858, are obtained by the interaction of ferrous sulphate and alkaline nitrites and sulphides.
In addition to the bacterial actions which result in the oxidization of ammonia to nitrous acid, and of the latter to nitric acid, the reversal of such processes is also brought about by numerous bacteria in the soil, rivers, &c. Warington showed some time ago that many species are able to reduce nitrates to nitrites, and such reduction is now known to occur very widely in nature.
Fresh manure abounds in de-nitrifying bacteria, and these organisms not only reduce the nitrates to nitrites, even setting free nitrogen and ammonia, but their effect extends to the undoing of the work of what nitrifying bacteria may be present also, with great loss.
The ammonia may be oxidized to nitrites and nitrates, and then pass into the higher plants and be worked up into proteids, and so be handed on to animals, eventually to be broken down by bacterial action again to ammonia; or the nitrates may be degraded to nitrites and even to free nitrogen or ammonia, which escapes.