Converting saltpeter (potassium nitrate)???

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tacklebox
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Converting saltpeter (potassium nitrate)???

Post by tacklebox » Wed Oct 19, 2011 05:08

Hey all, hope everything's been well :smile: I have a quick question, and I hope this is in the correct spot. (If not, I'll take 30 licks with a wet noodle CW :mrgreen: ) I have quite a few recipes, most of them from reputable books and the like, that call for certain amounts of saltpeter (potassium nitrate). As we in the US have a hard time acquiring saltpeter, is there a conversion chart or formula to convert units of saltpeter to Cure #1? I have searched high and low, but have not unearthed anything of use :???: I have read that I can substitute on a 1:1 ratio, but this doesn't seem right to me. I would rather be safe than sorry. Thanks for the input.
~Joe~

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Nie mam pojęcia co robię, ale uwielbiam bawić się z moimi kiełbasy!
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Post by JerBear » Wed Oct 19, 2011 05:37

Your biggest hurdle would be finding out the concentration that was used in the initial recipe vs what is available to you now. Concentrations of either potassium or sodium nitrate in the final product, by governmental standards, are very specific but similar in PPM (parts per million), however, as previously mentioned the challenge is in finding concentration.

Instead I'd go the route of recommended Cure #1 based upon your quantity of meat in the recipe using established standards which is about 2.5g per 1000g of meat (assuming we're talking about fresh sausage). If you don't already own a copy of the book, Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages, I highly recommend it.
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tacklebox
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Post by tacklebox » Wed Oct 19, 2011 06:30

Thanks for the quick replies. I kind of figured I would go with the recommended amounts per pound, I might just have to adjust the quantity of salt called for in the recipes. And no, it's not for dried or aged sausages, but for hot smoked ones. Again, thanks for the info :grin:
~Joe~

I haven't a clue what I'm doing, but I love playing with my sausage!
Nie mam pojęcia co robię, ale uwielbiam bawić się z moimi kiełbasy!
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Post by Chuckwagon » Wed Oct 19, 2011 08:18

Hi Tacklebox,
I hope you will reconsider the use of potassium nitrate. First, without knowing the exact strength of each particular supplier`s product, it is a dangerous guessing game. And believe me, there are many different strengths found around the world. One might possibly "double" the dose without even suspecting it. Last year, several of us rushed to stop a man in England from using a very concentrated potassium nitrate. Later it was estimated that the amount he was going to use would have probably been fatal. Saltpeter is 100% potassium nitrate (KNO3) and a fatal dose of the stuff is merely 30 grams. By the way, sodium nitrite will cancel your clock at only about 22 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

Second, there is certainly a reason that it became illegal to use commercially during the mid 1970`s, with the exception of only a few specific applications. When used in bacon that is fried crisp, it produces nitrosamines - known carcinogens. Although it is still used in various cures throughout the world, it is no longer available in cures in the United States (with the exception to only a few commercial wholesale suppliers to the meat industry). In Australia, its use is not recommended although it is still legal. In the U.K., it is still legal and still widely used - something to do with "tradition" I believe. :roll: If you would like to read more about cures, please click on this link: http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.php?t=4794

But shucks pard, don`t throw it out. Simply mix 75% potassium nitrate with 15% charcoal and 10% sulphur and you`ll have plenty of gunpowder! Now, why in the hello would you want to eat gunpowder? I totally agree with Jerry in his post above. He makes good sense. Why not use "up to date recipes" specifying sodium nitrate/nitrite? Not that it`s perfect either. Still, it`s a heck of a lot healthier than KNO3 and it won`t blow up in your face!

We still find authors publishing recipes containing potassium nitrate, even though the FSIS has tried very hard to make it unavailable to the average consumer for many years now. Why would you want to use a known carcinogen? I realize that there are many respected authors out there still using it and many are just plain stubborn about accepting modern scientific change. After all, the stuff didn`t kill their grandfathers did it? Never mind that many expired of cancer at a young age, or even more of "unknown circumstances". Another good reason not to use it is because it is about ten times more expensive than sodium nitrite. I realize that I will probably get a flood of mail asking me to "prove" my insinuations. As long as I`ve opened this can of worms, I`ll go all the way and say that anyone who would use potassium nitrate/nitrite as a meat cure after 1975 when they have unlimited supplies of sodium nitrate/nitrite available, must have fallen off their horse a couple of times, headfirst into the cactus. Shucks, its either that or perhaps they just ran the 50 yard dash in a 49 yard gymnasium! :shock:

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
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Post by ssorllih » Wed Oct 19, 2011 14:09

I have seen some corned beef brine recipes that call for saltpeter but the conversion tables make the use of sodium nitrite simple and more convenient.
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Post by odell » Sun Jan 15, 2012 18:36

I have a question about the shelf life of cures. Do they lose their potency over time? I store them in origanal packaging and a plastic container with a tight fitting lid, these are kept in a cool area. Any information will be a great help :lol: .
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Post by ssorllih » Sun Jan 15, 2012 18:56

I am inclined to believe that as long as they stay dry there is no reason for any chemical reaction that would break the nitrite down. The water would be the source of the extra oxygen needed to change the nitrite into simplier compounds.
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Post by DLFL » Sun Jan 15, 2012 19:33

Could he use the Cure Cal. to get what he needs? Click on cure cal to go to it.
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Post by Chuckwagon » Mon Jan 16, 2012 05:06

Odell wrote:
I have a question about the shelf life of cures. Do they lose their potency over time?
The United States Army recommends that the Cures be used within seven years although there has been no evidence of deterioration when Prague Powder is kept dry and out of direct light.

Many people have the wrong perception of "the chemical". It is simply a salt - a salt that breaks down into another composition called a "reduction". When NaNO3 (sodium nitrate) is placed into meat, it eventually begins to react with the staphylococcus and micrococcus bacteria present in meat. The reaction creates NaNO2 (sodium nitrite) - the reduction needed (nitric oxide) in the presence of oxygen to start the curing process.

However, if the meat does not contain adequate numbers of staphylococcus and micrococcus to begin with, the curing process will become very much restrained. In this case, NaNO2 (sodium nitrite) is added directly to the meat without having to endure the reductive process. It goes to work almost instantly, immediately beginning the curing process.

Often, meats brined in chlorinated water will have their naturally-present staphylococci and micrococci reduced by the chlorine. Hence, very little reaction will take place to reduce NaNO3 to NaNO2. To insure safety, sodium nitrite is often added directly to meat to remove the risk of insufficient numbers of reductive bacteria.

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
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Post by odell » Tue Jan 17, 2012 23:48

Thanks for the info, CW. Mine are stored in the basement, so there isnt much light.
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