According to officials and his mother, Matthew Mindler, a former child actor who used sodium nitrate he ordered from Amazon for $15 to kill himself, did so after conducting internet searches on how to utilize the substance in suicides.

In August, the 19-year-old “Our Idiot Brother” actor died from sodium nitrate toxicity, according to the Lancaster County Medical Examiner’s Office, which ruled his death a suicide. TMZ reported Thursday that the medical examiner determined that he killed himself due to sodium nitrate poisoning.

Although the oxidizing agent, commonly utilized to preserve foods like meat, is most often unintentionally fatal by causing low blood pressure and restricting oxygen flow in the body, according to the source.

However, Mindler’s mother told TMZ that her son obtained the drug online to commit suicide during his first days away from home at Miller University in Pennsylvania.

The chemical compound is composed of nitrogen and oxygen and is present in more than one hundred compounds. The composition of the compound ranges from forty to eighty percent. Sodium nitrate is an industrially important compound that is used in the production of fertilizers or explosives. It also has other home uses such as food preservation.

Sodium nitrate is a natural compound. It is also the most important commercial product obtained from sodium chloride through chemical processes such as roasting and acid treatment. It was discovered in 1611 by alchemist Hennig Brand. The discovery was made after he heated saltpeter (potassium nitrate) with ashes and red lead ore.

The compound is also used in food preservation. It can be found in cold meats, hams, corned beef, hot dogs and smoked fish products. This compound has an antimicrobial action by which it inhibits the growth of microorganisms which cause spoilage. The use of sodium nitrate as a food additive is under debate due to the health risks associated. When mixed with bacteria present in the intestine it forms nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcinogens and can cause cancer to humans when consumed

The compound is also used as a fertilizer due to its ability to enhance the plant growth process. It promotes early flowering, greater fruiting and increased yield (Hermann 1977). According to a study conducted in Japan, it is suggested that this compound, when used as a fertilizer, can increase the protein content of rice. In addition to its role as a nutrient source, the use of sodium nitrate in fertilizers has been associated with greenhouse gas emissions. It is also being analyzed if food production through the use of nitrogen fertilizers is responsible for the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, this compound is used to produce nitric acid, which is then used in the production of fertilizers and explosives. It can also be used as a preservative, antimicrobial agent or food colorant (Hermann 1977).