A picrate is a salt containing the anion (O2N)3C6H2O or an ester derivative of the picrate anion. These salts are often produced by reactions of picric acid (2,4,6-trinitrophenol).[1][2] The picrate ion is intensely yellow.


Many picrates are explosives, for example ammonium picrate (known as Dunnite). Some are used as primary explosives, namely lead picrate or potassium picrate which find their use as primers for cartridge ammunition. Picrates of some metals tend to be significantly more sensitive to impact, friction and shock than picric acid itself. As a result, storage of picric acid (or mixtures containing it) in metal containers is strongly discouraged due to the high risk of accidental explosion.

Other uses

Ferrous picrate is used in some applications as a diesel fuel additive to achieve better mileage. [3]

Sodium picrate is used as an etchant in metallography to differ preeutectoid ferrite in hypoeutectoid steel from preeutectoid cementite in hypereutectoid steel by etching cementite to a dark colour, whereas not attacking ferrite and thus it remains reflective.

Ethers and esters

Ethers and esters of picric acid are also called picrates. The ether methyl picrate (CAS# 606-35-9) has the formula (O2N)3C6H2OCH3.


  1. Olsher, Uriel; Feinberg, Hadar; Frolow, Felix; Shoham, Gil (1996). "The picrate anion as a versatile chelating counterion for the complexation of alkali and alkaline earth metal cations with ionophores: 'the picrate effect'". Pure and Applied Chemistry. 68: 1195–1199. doi:10.1351/pac199668061195.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. Smith, M. B.; March, J. (2007). March's Advanced Organic Chemistry (6th ed.). John Wiley & Sons. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-471-72091-1.
  3. "Fuel Performance Catalyst - Frequently Asked Questions". Fuel Performance Catalyst. FPC International. Inc. 2018. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
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