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Saltpetre of the Alchemists. Kali-n. is known in old-school practice principally as a "refrigerant diuretic," and as the active agent in the well known "nitre papers," which are burnt for producing fumes to allay attacks of asthma. A solution of saltpetre as an application was an old remedy for inverterate mange in cats. Nitre with Sulphur and Charcoal forms gunpowder. A teaspoonful of this in hot water was a favorite remedy for gonorrhea among soldiers in the days when black powder was used.
With physicians of the old school next to the (still raging) withdrawal of blood, Nitr has been the chief remedy by which an increased circulation and inflammatory fevers might be diminished. They relied on this, their chief anti - phlogistic remedy, to allay the fevers. They knew of hardly any other use for nitre in diseases.
Nitrate of potassium is frequently used as a preservative for meat products. It is one of the oldest and most effective ways to preserve meat. The nitrate is added under number E 252, and the nitrite under number E 249; the nitrate may be added in much greater quantities than the nitrite.
Potassium nitrate is used in the preparation of gunpowder, in the glass industry, in freezing mixtures, in the impregnation of candle wicks and in the treatment of tobacco. In fireworks, potassium nitrate and other potassium compounds contain the oxygen necessary for combustion of the pyrotechnic mixture.
Boericke mentions that Gunpowder as a homoeopathic remedy is protective against wound infection and curative in herpes facialis, carbuncles and crops of boils. Gunpowder is a mechanical mixture of 10% sulphur, 15% charcoal, and 75% saltpetre.