Dilute nitric acid is generally considered a typical acid except for its reaction with metals because it does not liberate hydrogen. It is a powerful oxidizing agent, and nascent oxygen formed oxidizes hydrogen in water. The synthesis of nitric acid was first recorded ca. 800 AD by the alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan, a.k.a. Gerber.
It is a powerful acid with a suffocating and pungent odour, highly toxic to inhale, and corrosive to metals and tissues. Nitric acid is one of the acids in acid rain. Nitrogen Oxide emitted from vehicle engines mix with water vapour in the air and turns into nitric acid. This nitric acid falls from the sky as acid rain.: This acid is prepared by the reaction of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with water. The commercial production of nitric acid is by oxidizing anhydrous ammonia to nitric oxide, in the presence of a platinum catalyst at a high temperature (Ostwald process). Pure nitric acid only exists at -41° C. in the form of snow-white crystals, which decomposes slightly on liquefying, into nitrogen pentoxide, N2O5, and water. Passing a current of dry air through this liquid removes the N2O5, and leaves a colourless liquid with a 98.67 per cent, a content of nitric acid.