Legality of posessing potasium nitrate? (Saltpeter)

Just a quick legal and chemistry question…is it currently legal to buy or own large quantities of potassium nitrate? Would you need a licence, or a background check, or anything?

And no, before anyone asks, I don’t have any saltpeter myself, and I don’t plan on trying to get any.

Well, thanks for your patience,

It would help in answering this if you told us exactly where you live. Canada? Nigeria?


I live in the U.S.—though I’d be interested in knowing what the situation would be in Japan as well, as a matter of fact.

I’m pretty sure I can buy this stuff by the kilo without any questions being asked, but this is through a university lab. I’m not sure how I could order it on my own. I’ll check when I bother to go back to work again (if someone else hasn’t answered.)

This page says that saltpeter can be bought at Japanese pharmacies, and this Japanese on-line reagent store sells it in sizes up to 20 kg, so I think that it is legal to possess in large quantities in Japan.

Saltpeter makes black powder, which is kinda anemic for explosives in this modern period.

I know it’s legal to have tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate, but after a certain amount they do checks and stuff.

Although ammonium nitrate is a component in some of the world’s most prominent terrorist bombings, the stuff is stored out in the open. It’s a common farm fertilizer, so it’s not hard to find. The security issue came to light because of the meth lab problem. Ammonium nitrate is a component of a homebrew recipe for methamphetamine, so addle-pated speed freaks are raiding the local farm co-op. There were rumblings of chainlink fences around the ammonia tanks, but nothing came of it. Timothy McVey taught us nothing. :smack:

aah the joys of homemade gunpowder. Used to buy the saltpetre and sulfur from our local pharmacist (NZ). I am sure he knew but as long as we only blew up small inanimate objects he didn’t care. Made me the chemist I am today

I don’t know what US law actually says, but before restricting saltpetre you should first restrict:

fireworks - already contain gunpowder
ammunition of all types - contain smokeless powder
matches - head are a fast-burning pyrotechnic
sparklers - ditto
caps - ditto

Having said that, legislation is frequently nonsensical. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that you could legally have a bunch of firecrackers containing ready-mixed gunpowder in your home, but possession of the saltpetre in the firecrackers on its own is prohibited. Makes about as much sense as restricting lab glassware, and that’s been done.

Lab glassware restricted??? What part of the world is this in? Scotland? It cant be the USA, they all walk around with guns and stuff. As a chemist, restricting glassware sounds absurd.

You’d think, wouldn’t you? But no. Texas. Here’s an old gripe about it:

Here’s the legislation in question (PDF). Section lists the equipment in question. Don’t know if it’s still in force, but it certainly was.