Nitrate and Nitrite are naturally occurring ionic species that are part of the earths nitrogen cycle. They typically exist in the environment in highly water-soluble forms, in association with other ions such as sodium and potassium. Salts completely dissociate in aqueous environments. Nitrite is readily oxidized (combines with oxygen) to form nitrate. Nitrate is generally stable in the environment; however, it may be reduced to nitrite through biological processes involving plants, microbes, etc. In nature, plants utilize nitrate as an essential nutrient. In commerce, the majority of nitrate is used in inorganic fertilizers. Additional uses of commercial nitrate and nitrite include food preservation and the production of munitions and explosives.