Chemistry
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Nitrous oxide (abbreviated as Nitrous, commonly referred to as Laughing gas) is a colorless, inorganic, neutral, non-toxic gas, consisting of two Nitrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom. Nitrous oxide is an oxidizing agent and therefore not flammable itself. It supposedly has a slight sweet taste and smell, earning it the nickname Sweet air.

The gas is mostly known for its euphoric effect when inhaled, which is why it is used in medicine to reduce pain, anxiety and stress. This is why it can, in a certain way be viewed as a drug, as it can alter the human consciousness. Some countries like the United Kingdom have even banned the gas due to its danger. While definitely being non-toxic, nitrous oxide can cause a Vitamin B12 defiency and other health issues when inhaled chronically. Another common use of Nitrous oxide is in cream chargers to prevent the oxidation of the cream.

On another note, Nitrous oxide is also a greenhouse gas and an environmental pollutant. It also depletes the ozone layer. It is the greenhouse gas with the fourth most-significant effect on Earth's climate, behind Water vapor, Carbon dioxide and Methane, although Water vapor is not considered an environmental pollutant and in small concentrations, Carbon dioxide is necessary for plant life.

Nitrous oxide was first made in 1772 by Joseph Priestley, who created it by reacting Iron with Nitric acid at a certain temperature. In the 19th century, the gas was commercialized and often inhaled at parties, as the dangers of chronic exposure were not known before. In the same century, its use in medicine also began. Nitrous oxide is on the WHO's list of essential medicines.

The most common way of producing Nitrous oxide is by heating Ammonium nitrate at 250 °C. This produces nitrous oxide and water vapor. This should never be done without proper safety equiptment outside a lab, as Ammonium nitrate is an explosive. A little less dangerous way of making Nitrous oxide is the reaction of Sodium nitrate and Ammonium sulfate. This is still not recommended to do at home and without proper safety equiptment.

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