What type of salt is produced when a metal reacts with nitric acid?
This question is asking us to determine the salt product in a reaction between a metal and nitric acid. A salt is an ionic compound made of cations and anions. Salts can be produced from a few different reactions involving acids. We are told that the type of reaction producing the salt in question is an acid and metal reaction. Our acid, nitric acid, can be represented using its chemical formula HNO3. This aqueous acid can react with many different metals to produce salts and, depending on the concentration of the acid, various other products as well. Magnesium, which is a fairly reactive metal, can react with dilute nitric acid. This vigorous reaction produces bubbles of hydrogen gas and an aqueous solution of the salt magnesium nitrate.
Let’s have a look at a reaction with a different metal, this time with concentrated nitric acid. Copper, a fairly unreactive metal, can react with concentrated nitric acid. This reaction is extremely vigorous and gives off a lot of heat. The salt copper(II) nitrate is produced as well as water and nitrogen dioxide gas. We can see both reactions between different metals and nitric acids produced aqueous salts. These salts vary by their metal cations, with magnesium nitrate containing magnesium ions and copper(II) nitrate containing copper(II) ions. Both salts, however, contain the anion nitrate contributed by the nitric acid. We can call both of these salts nitrate salts.
Therefore, the type of salt produced when a metal reacts with nitric acid is a nitrate.