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Thorium Nitrate, Th(NO3)4

By the crystallisation of a dilute nitric acid solution of thorium hydroxide or carbonate large deliquescent tablets of the salt Th(NO3)4.12H2O are produced, which are very soluble in water and alcohol. By the crystallisation of a warm aqueous solution the hydrate Th(NO3)4.6H2O has been obtained, and from a strongly acid solution the hydrate Th(NO3)4.5H2O. A dilute solution of the nitrate is slowly hydrolysed with separation of a basic salt. Thorium nitrate is employed for the manufacture of incandescent-gas mantles. For this purpose it is obtained in granular masses containing about 48 per cent, of thoria, which corresponds nearly to the formula Th(NO3)4.4H2O. When strongly ignited the nitrate leaves a residue of pure white oxide. This is dense and harsh when the nitrate is quite pure, but if 1 to 2 per cent, of sulphuric acid is present in the nitrate the salt swells like "Pharaoh's serpents" during ignition, and yields a soft, voluminous ash from six to ten times as bulky as that obtained from the pure nitrate. Most mantle-makers prefer a nitrate that yields the bulky ash, and hence commercial thorium nitrate almost invariably contains from 1 to 2 per cent, of sulphuric acid.
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