Where does the word “saltpeter” come from and What does saltpeter mean in Latin?

An alternative spelling of “saltpeter”, preferred in England, is saltpetre.

Chemically, saltpeter is potassium nitrate, a compound essential to the making of gunpowder and also of important value as a fertilizer.

The name comes from the Latin sal petrae, “salt of the rock,” so-called because it is sometimes found in nature as an efflorescence on rocks or soil.

where does the word saltpeter come from and what does saltpeter mean in latin

However, saltpeter is definitely not to be confused with rock salt, even though it has a saline taste.

Rock salt is merely sodium chloride (table salt) which has been induced to form large, rather than small, crystals.

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Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.