Just For Laughs!

Nitrous oxide from ammonium nitrate

What is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide, also referred to as dinitrogen oxide, consists of an oxygen atom that is attached to two nitrogen atoms. It is a colourless gas that has a sweet smell (Senese 2010). The common name for nitrous oxide is laughing gas because breathing it makes people feel intoxicated and hence, causes them to behave in a foolish manner. The first person to make nitrous oxide was English chemist Joseph Priestley (Farndon 1999).

Image Source: http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/n2o/n2oc.htm

Chemical Equation

NH4NO3 (s) -> 2H2O (g) + N2O (g)

This is a decomposition reaction.

Image Source: http://www.carewelldentistry.com/services-laughing-gas/

Reactants and Products

Nitrous Oxide Products and Reactants Chemistry Project
Laughing gas, Nitrous oxide gas, San Jose Children's Dentistry, Sedation Dentistry
SpaceShipOne Flight 15P (first civilian space flight)

Other Uses of Nitrous Oxide

  • Semiconductor manufacturing
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Auto racing engine injection (Compressed Gas Association 1913)


Beringer, P. (2006). Remington: The science and practice of pharmacy (21st ed.). London: Pharmaceutical Press.

CBC News. (2010, June 10). Why the fuss over ammonium nitrate? Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/why-the-fuss-over-ammonium-nitrate-1.931200

Compressed Gas Association. (1913). Nitrous oxide fact sheet. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.cganet.com/n20guidelines.php

Dunbar, B. (2008, November 18). Water Vapor Confirmed as Major Player in Climate Change. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/vapor_warming.html

Farndon, J. (1999). Nitrogen. New York: Benchmark Books/Marshall Cavendish.

The Fertilizer Institute. (2014). Ammonium Nitrate Fact Sheet | TFI. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.tfi.org/safety-and-security-tools/get-know-fertilizer-retailer/fertilizer-fact-sheets/ammonium-nitrate-fact-

Kiil, L., & Houmøller, M. (Eds.). (2011). Water vapor. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://climap.net/water-vapor

Knapp, B. (1996). Nitrogen and phosphorus. Danbury, CT: Grolier Educational.

Malik, T. (2004, June 16). Rocket science: Reaching for space with rubber fuel. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2004-06-16-rubber-fuel_x.htm

Praxair. (2014, December 29). Nitrous Oxide Safety Data Sheet P-4636. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http://www.praxair.com/~/media/North%20America/US/Documents/SDS/Nitrous%20Oxide%20MediPure%20N2O%20Safety%20Data%20Sheet%20SDS%20P4636.pdf&ei=SukQVaOWFoqlNqiug-AC&usg=AFQjCNEJnHZe9d94m1I5tyza-qkJHThQew&sig2=bGSXblNHyh_f17FIAkP54A&bvm=bv.89184060,d.eXY

ScienceLab.com. (2013, May 21). Material Safety Data Sheet Ammonium nitrate MSDS. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAA&url=http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927336&ei=YtoQVa6qKtWoyATsiICwBQ&usg=AFQjCNEKVIAAX5urHaUyK3g2jddmzrWSMA&sig2=veL4sqZW7nRG2hC4oqj_aQ&bvm=bv.89184060,d.aWw

Senese, F. (2010, February 15). What is laughing gas? Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/inorganic/faq/laughing-gas.shtml

S. S. Gas Lab Asia. (1988). About Nitrous Oxide. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.nitrousoxidegasplants.com/about-nitrous-oxide.html

WeatherQuestions.com. (2010, December 27). Weather Questions & Answers. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.weatherquestions.com/What_is_water_vapor.htm

*Due to the format of Smore, there are no indentations in the citations. However, every line except for the first one should be indented. *

By: Simona Kovacevska