Devon Hope

What is it?

Ammonia is a chemical compound that consists of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms tightly bonded, which gives it the chemical symbol NH3. It can take the form of a strong-smelling liquid or gas. Ammonia is the most commonly produced chemical in the U.S. for home and industrial use. Ammonia is also used as a refrigerant gas, for purification of water supplies, and in the manufacture of plastics, explosives, textiles, dyes and other chemicals. Ammonia is apart of many famous and widely spread chemicals, such as Windex, It also plays a major role in farming pesticides. It is used in many house-hold cleaners and industrial-strength cleaners, for its extra strength and resistance to wear after a long period of time, but it also doesn't leave a soapy residue.

Ammonium (NH4)

Ammonium is a non-toxic ionized form of Ammonia, it consists of one nitrogen and four hydrogen that are covalently bonded. While Ammonium is harmless in nature, it has a tendency to suddenly react to a change in temperature or ph of the water it resides in. It's a polyatomic in itself, but held together by covalent bonds, however it will form ionic bonds with negative ions. This causes it to instantly change into Ammonia (NH3) making the water toxic or more toxic than originally thought. Though Ammonia can and has always sustained physical properties by itself, Ammonium can not, frightening many scientists about the increasing toxicity of run off water from farms fields.

3D Model's of Ammonia (NH3) and Ammonium (NH4)

Ammonia 3D model

Physical Features


- At room temperature, ammonia is a colorless, highly irritating gas with a pungent, suffocating door.

- In pure form, it is known as anhydrous ammonia and is hygroscopic (readily absorbs moisture).

- Ammonia has alkaline properties and is corrosive.

- Ammonia gas dissolves easily in water to form ammonium hydroxide, a caustic solution and weak base.
- Ammonia gas is easily compressed and forms a clear liquid under pressure.
- Ammonia is usually shipped as a compressed liquid in steel containers.
- Ammonia is not highly flammable, but containers of ammonia may explode when exposed to high heat.


While Ammonia can sustain a solid, liquid, or gas state long enough to be examined, Ammonium cannot. It is too reactive and unstable to be able to sustain a state either than a liquid or gas.

The Dangers



Ammonia is irritating and corrosive. Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in air causes immediate burning of the nose, throat and respiratory tract. This can cause bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction resulting in respiratory distress or failure. Inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation. Ammonia's odor provides adequate early warning of its presence, but ammonia also causes olfactory fatigue or adaptation, reducing awareness of one's prolonged exposure at low concentrations.

Children exposed to the same concentrations of ammonia vapor as adults may receive a larger dose because they have greater lung surface area-to-body weight ratios and increased minute volumes-to-weight ratios. In addition, they may be exposed to higher concentrations than adults in the same location because of their shorter height and the higher concentrations of ammonia vapor initially found near the ground.

Skin or eye contact

Exposure to low concentrations of ammonia in air or solution may produce rapid skin or eye irritation. Higher concentrations of ammonia may cause severe injury and burns. Contact with concentrated ammonia solutions such as industrial cleaners may cause corrosive injury including skin burns, permanent eye damage or blindness. The full extent of eye injury may not be apparent for up to a week after the exposure. Contact with liquefied ammonia can also cause frostbite injury.


Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia from swallowing ammonia solution results in corrosive damage to the mouth, throat and stomach. Ingestion of ammonia does not normally result in systemic poisoning.


Unlike Ammonia, NH4 has been proven safe, and harmless when coming in contact with skin. However, this doesn't mean its alternate form Ammonia is safe, as shown above its highly dangerous and scaring. Ammonium is used in most fertilizers and pesticides, bringing rise to the problem of run off farm field polluted water. During a rainy season, heavy rainfall or storms, the rain collects the fertilizers and pesticides. Chemical residue up and carries it to near by lakes to be evaporated into clouds then dropped over major cities and towns. The acidity from the chemical residue can and has been proven to be a hazard and irritant to the human skin. This brings scientists to believe that however not harmful in its basic form, Ammonium is dangerous through a series of events.

Appropriate uses for Ammonia & Ammonium


If you insist on using Ammonia rich cleaning products for house hold or industrial use dispose of empty containers properly. When using it take into account, the place, how, and where else would be a better spot to use it. Use for indoors only, and only for tough hard to get out stains, on flooring only.


For fertilizer use keep the Ammonium levels down in as much as possible, only buy the fertilizers with the least amount of the chemical in it. Always predict weather forecasts and days to use the chemical on, do not use it before a predicted storm or shower. CBC and CTV, are good Canadian stations that provide rather accurate forecasts.

Use Carefully!