Inorganic or organic ester or nitric acid salt containing the (NO3) ion. Nitrates play a major part in nitrogen cycle and nitrate pollution. They are the most water soluble of all salts. Organic nitrates are manufactured compounds. They generate oxygen when heated and are popular for use in explosives, like nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin. Bacteria form inorganic nitrates and are an essential agricultural soil component.