Nitrous Oxide


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a clear, colorless, oxidizing liquefied gas with a slightly sweet odor. The product is stable at room temperature.  Nitrous oxide is obtained most commonly by the thermal decomposition of ammonium nitrate. Nitrous oxide may also be obtained by controlled reduction of nitrites or nitrates, by the slow decomposition of hyponitrites, or by the thermal decomposition of hydroxylamine.

TEchnical Information

Nitrous Oxide Physical Properties

Molecular Weight (lb/mol) 44.01
Critical Temp. (°F) 97.6
Critical Pressure (psia) 1053.3
Boiling Point (°F) -128.3
Melting Point (°F) -131.6
Gas Density @ 70°F 1 atm (lb/ft3) 0.1145
Specific Volume @ 70°F 1 atm (ft3/lb) 8.74
Specific Gravity .1.555
Specific Heat @ 70°F (Btu/lbmol-°F) 9.17

Safety Data Sheet PDF Link

Compressed Gas

Nitrous Oxide Uses and Applications

Nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”) is commonly used as a general anesthetic in both medical and dental surgeries. To be effective as an anesthetic, nitrous oxide must be inhaled in relatively high concentrations mixed with air or oxygen. Nitrous oxide may be classified as a medical gas in some geographies and managed according to the relevant regulations.

Nitrous oxide is used:

  • in the production of fiber optics.
  • as oxidizing component in the production of rocket fuels.
  • as an oxidizer in some types of analytical instruments.
  • as an oxygen enrichment medium for high-performance internal combustion engines (drag racing).
  • in calibration mixtures for environmental control.
  • as an oxygen source in the chemical vapor deposition of silicon oxynitride layers.

Nitrous oxide may be used as an aerosol/propellant in various fields:

  • for whipped cream (because it improves the foaming characteristics of the cream), syrups, concentrates of coffee, chocolate and various flavors, sauces for grilled meats, vinaigrette, etc.
  • in pharmaceutical sprays
  • in cosmetics (perfumes, eau de cologne, hair spray, etc.)
  • in household products, paints and varnishes, insecticides
  • in aerosols for use at low temperatures, such as deicers, engine starting boosters, etc.

Nitrous oxide serves in industry as a leak detector for vacuum and pressurized enclosures, buried piping, etc.

The nitrous oxide-acetylene flame is employed in the laboratory for the analysis of refractory elements such as aluminum, vanadium, titanium and calcium oxides, by flame emission spectrometry. The use of this flame also permits determination of a certain number of trace metals by atomic absorption spectrometry.

Nitrous Oxide Purity Grades

Product/PurityPurity PercentPart Number Prefix
Nitrous Oxide Medical: USP Grade>99.0%
Carbon Monoxide < 10 ppm
Nitric Oxide < 1 ppm
Nitrogen Dioxide < 1 ppm
Halogens < 1 ppm
Carbon Dioxide < 300 ppm
Ammonia < 25 ppm
Water < 150 mg/m3

Nitrous Oxide Packaging Options

Compressed Cylinders

Nitrous Oxide Transportation Information

Proper Shipping NameID NumberHazard Class or DivisionPacking GroupLabeling RequirementsPassenger Aircraft or Railcar Quantity LimitationsCargo Aircraft Only Quantity LimitationsAdditional Shipping Description
Nitrous OxideUN10702.2Not applicable2.2; 5.1N/AN/AN/A

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