Ammonium Chloride

Team Chemistry -
Created by: Team Chemistry -, Last Updated: May 22, 2024

Ammonium Chloride

Ammonium chloride is a white crystalline compound that plays a significant role in chemistry. It forms when ammonia reacts with hydrochloric acid, resulting in a versatile salt used in various applications. Commonly found in fertilizers, batteries, and cold medicines, ammonium chloride dissolves easily in water and has a salty taste. Its unique properties make it an essential substance in both industrial and laboratory settings, highlighting the diverse nature of chemical compounds and salts.

What is Ammonium Chloride?

Ammonium chloride is a white crystalline salt with the chemical formula NH₄Cl. It is composed of ammonia (NH₃) and hydrochloric acid (HCl). This compound is commonly used in fertilizers, as an electrolyte in dry cell batteries, and in various industrial applications. In chemistry, it is known for its ability to produce cooling effects when dissolved in water due to its endothermic dissolution process. Ammonium chloride is also utilized in medicine as an expectorant to relieve coughs

Chemical Names and Formulas

Hill formulaClH₄N
NameAmmonium chloride
Alternate namesAmchlor, Ammoneric, Ammonium muriate, Azanium chloride, Darammon, Sal ammoniac, Salammonite, Salmiac

Structure of Ammonium Chloride


The structure of ammonium chloride consists of an ammonium ion (NH₄⁺) and a chloride ion (Cl⁻). The ammonium ion is formed by a nitrogen atom bonded to four hydrogen atoms in a tetrahedral shape. In ammonium chloride, these ions are held together by ionic bonds, creating a crystal lattice structure. The positively charged ammonium ions and negatively charged chloride ions arrange themselves in a repeating pattern, which helps form the solid crystalline structure of the compound.

Preparation of Ammonium Chloride

To prepare ammonium chloride, you can react ammonia (NH₃) with hydrochloric acid (HCl). When these two substances mix, they form ammonium chloride and water. This reaction is straightforward and commonly used in laboratories. The chemical equation for this reaction is:

NH₃ + HCl → NH₄Cl

In a simple setup, you can bubble ammonia gas into a solution of hydrochloric acid. As the ammonia dissolves, it reacts with the hydrochloric acid to produce ammonium chloride, which then precipitates out of the solution as a white solid. You can filter and dry the solid to obtain pure ammonium chloride.

Physical Properties of Ammonium Chloride

AppearanceWhite crystalline solid
Molecular FormulaNH₄Cl
Molar Mass53.49 g/mol
Density1.527 g/cm³
Melting Point338°C (640°F)
Solubility in WaterHighly soluble

Chemical Properties of Ammonium Chloride

Reaction with Water

  • Ammonium chloride dissolves in water to form ammonium (NH₄⁺) and chloride (Cl⁻) ions. This process is endothermic, meaning it absorbs heat from the surroundings.
  • Equation: NH₄Cl → NH₄⁺ + Cl⁻

Reaction with Bases

  • Ammonium chloride reacts with strong bases like sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to produce ammonia gas (NH₃), water, and sodium chloride (NaCl).
  • Equation: NH4Cl + NaOH → NH₃ + H2O + NaCl

Thermal Decomposition

  • When heated, ammonium chloride decomposes into ammonia gas (NH₃) and hydrogen chloride gas (HCl).
  • Equation: NH₄Cl → NH₃ + HCl

Ammonium Chloride Chemical Compound Information

Chemical Identifiers

CAS registry number12125-02-9
Beilstein number4371014
PubChem compound ID25517
PubChem substance ID24855359
SMILES identifier[NH4+].[Cl-]
InChI identifierInChI=1/ClH.H3N/h1H;1H3/fCl.H4N/h1h;1H/q-1;+1
RTECS numberBP4550000
MDL numberMFCD00011420

NFPA Label

NFPA Health Rating1
NFPA Fire Rating0
NFPA Reactivity Rating0

Uses of Ammonium Chloride



Farmers use ammonium chloride as a nitrogen source in fertilizers. It helps plants grow by providing essential nutrients.

Medical Applications

Doctors use ammonium chloride in medicine as an expectorant. It helps relieve coughs by thinning mucus in the respiratory tract.

Industrial Applications

Industries use ammonium chloride in various applications, including metalwork. It serves as a flux to clean metals during soldering and welding.


Manufacturers use ammonium chloride as an electrolyte in dry cell batteries. It helps conduct electricity and power devices like flashlights and radios.

Food Additive

The food industry uses ammonium chloride as a food additive, particularly in the production of certain types of licorice. It enhances flavor and extends shelf life.

Laboratory Reagent

Scientists use ammonium chloride as a reagent in laboratories. It helps in various chemical reactions and experiments, such as buffer solutions and protein purification.

Benefits of Ammonium Chloride

  1. Agricultural Benefits: Provides essential nitrogen for plant growth.
  2. Medical Benefits: Acts as an effective expectorant in medicine.
  3. Industrial Benefits: Cleans metals during soldering and welding.
  4. Electrical Benefits: Conducts electricity in dry cell batteries.
  5. Food Industry Benefits: Enhances flavor and extends shelf life in foods.
  6. Laboratory Benefits: Supports various chemical reactions in laboratories.

Side Effects of Ammonium Chloride

  1. Respiratory Issues: Can cause coughing and throat irritation if inhaled.
  2. Skin Irritation: May cause skin irritation upon contact.
  3. Eye Irritation: Can lead to eye irritation and redness if it comes into contact with eyes.
  4. Gastrointestinal Problems: May cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain if ingested.
  5. Metabolic Acidosis: Prolonged exposure or high doses can lead to metabolic acidosis, a condition where the body produces too much acid.
  6. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions such as rashes, itching, or swelling.

Is Ammonium Chloride Harmful to Humans?

Ammonium chloride can be harmful if inhaled, ingested in large amounts, or contacted with skin and eyes. It can cause respiratory issues, skin irritation, and gastrointestinal problems.

Is Ammonium Chloride a Bleach?

No, ammonium chloride is not a bleach. It is primarily used in fertilizers, batteries, and as a metal cleaner.

Is Ammonium Chloride Safe to Eat in Licorice?

Yes, ammonium chloride is safe to eat in licorice in small amounts. It is commonly used in Scandinavian licorice as a flavoring agent.

Why is Ammonium Chloride Important in Our Homes?

Ammonium chloride is important for various household uses, including as a cleaning agent, in batteries, and in certain medical applications.

What Happens When You Mix Ammonium Chloride with Bleach?

Mixing ammonium chloride with bleach releases toxic chlorine gas. This is dangerous and should be avoided.

Can You Mix Ammonium Chloride with Vinegar?

Yes, you can mix ammonium chloride with vinegar. The mixture is generally safe and does not produce harmful reactions.

What to Not Mix with Ammonium Chloride?

Avoid mixing ammonium chloride with bleach or strong alkalis. These combinations can produce toxic gases or other hazardous reactions.

What Happens When You Mix Vinegar and Ammonia?

Mixing vinegar and ammonia produces a neutralization reaction, creating water and ammonium acetate. This reaction is generally safe and non-toxic.

Why Do Finnish People Eat Licorice?

Finnish people eat licorice flavored with ammonium chloride for its unique salty taste, which is a traditional and popular treat in Finland.

What is Ammonium Chloride for Cleaning?

Ammonium chloride is used as a flux in metal cleaning. It removes oxides and impurities from metal surfaces during soldering and welding.

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