Ammonium Chloride Hazards: How to Ensure Safety Handling the Chemical

By | January 11, 2024
Ammonium Chloride Hazards
Ammonium chloride should be kept in a tightly sealed container to avoid the hazards associated with it.

This post focuses on the chemical compound ammonium chloride and the hazards associated with it; it provides ideas on safety measures to take in handling the chemical.

Please, read on to get the detailed information:

What is Ammonium Chloride

Ammonium chloride is a compound that has the chemical formula NH4Cl. It is a white crystalline salt that dissolves extremely well in water resulting in a little acidic solution.

 The name of the natural mineralogical form of ammonium chloride is Sal ammoniac. The mineral is usually made from burning coal dumps from condensation of coal-derived gases.

Ammonium chloride is a whitish, glittering, water-soluble powdered substance, NH4Cl, which causes a chilling feeling on the tongue.

It is primarily employed in the making of dry cells in electroplating processes and also used in making drugs as an expectorant.

It is a product of the Solvay process deployed to make sodium carbonate: CO2 + 2 NH3 + 2 NaCl + H2O → 2 NH4Cl + Na2CO3

Ammonium chloride is made from combining ammonia (NH3) with hydrochloric acid (water solution) or hydrogen chloride (gas) both reactions are represented chemically as NH3 + HCl → NH4Cl

Ammonium chloride is naturally formed from volcanic environments where there are vapor-discharging vents (fumaroles).

Common Ammonium Chloride Hazards

Ammonium chloride is a substance that should be handled with caution; otherwise it can prove to be harmful:

  • Eye irritation: There is a proof that this substance may cause eye irritation in some individuals and cause damage to the eyes. Treatment needs to take place immediately when in contact with the eye, else there may be a lasting loss of vision.
  • Skin: Contact with the skin is known to create dangerous effect. Good sanitation exercise ensures that exposure be placed to a minimum and that suitable gloves should be worn in an industrial setting. Broken skin should not be exposed to this substance. Inspect the skin before using the substance and make sure that any external exposure is adequately taken care of.
  • Inhaled: Ammonium chloride vapor causes irritation of the nose, throat, and lungs, as well as cause sore throat and coughing which may be dangerous in high concentrations. 

Ammonium Chloride Safety Handling Procedures

Follow these techniques in order to handle ammonium chloride safety:

  • Put on defensive clothing because of the dangers of exposures.
  • Always use this substance in well-ventilated environ, and not in a confined place.
  • Never allow the substance to contact exposed edibles, food utensil, and humans.
  • When using this substance, do not smoke, eat, or drink.
  • Protect containers from physical damages.
  • Do not wash clothes used for working with ammonium chloride with your normal clothes.
  • Do not forget to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after use.
  • Always make sure containers are tightly covered when not in use.

Ammonium Chloride Safety Storage Procedures

Ammonium chloride should be kept in a tightly sealed container, in a dry and well-ventilated space. Isolate it from ammonium nitrate and potassium chlorate; ammonium chloride also reacts severely with powerful oxidizers such as permanganates, lead and silver salts, bromium trifluoride, and alkalis and their carbonates.  

Ammonium Chloride Safety Disposal Procedure

This chemical is not only dangerous to humans; it is also known to be a poisonous when present in water.

Always dispose ammonium chloride in a tightly sealed container in line with federal, state, and local environmental regulations, to ensure it does not get into drains, sewers, or water bodies, so it would not damage aquatic lives.

How to Handle Exposures to Ammonium Chloride 

Whenever you get exposed to ammonium chloride, follow these procedures to ensure safety:

  • Eye contact: Whenever you are making use of this chemical and it enters your eyes, immediately flush with cool water for about 15 to 20 minutes, occasionally raising both the upper and lower eyelids. Take off contact lens if you have one. Call for medical attention if possible.
  • Skin contact: Promptly take off affected clothing and wash contaminated skin with enough water and soap.
  • Inhalation: Take the affected person away from exposure, start rescue breathing (administering universal safety procedure). If breathing stops, take the person immediately to a medical facility for attention. 

Ammonium Chloride Properties (Physical and Chemical)

Physical properties: Ammonium chloride is a white solid chemical substance with no odor. Its density is 1.5274 g ml-1, with 338 ºC and 520 ºC as the melting and boiling points respectively.

Ammonium chloride is soluble in water, methanol, ethanol, and glycerol and a little soluble in acetone. It is insoluble in organic solvents such as ethyl acetate.

Chemical properties: Ammonium chloride is very important for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

It can break down whenever it’s heated into hydrochloric acid and ammonia. Moreover, it can react with bases like sodium or potassium hydroxide to give off ammonia gas.

Ammonium chloride is an acidic salt, with its solution being moderately acidic (with pH below 7.0). It therefore reacts as an acid, undergoing neutralization reaction with bases.  

Ammonium Chloride Preparation

Ammonium chloride can also be derived from different means. The first one is through the reaction of ammoniacal residue formed in the distillation of coal with HCl:

NH3 + HCl → NH4Cl

Another way is through the Solvay process to get sodium carbonate (or bicarbonate) and ammonium chloride comes out as a by-product:

NH3 + CO2 + NaCl + H2O → NH4Cl + NaHCO3

In Solvay procedures, the sodium bicarbonate is gotten back by filtration and then the ammonium chloride stays in solution where it can be crystallized.

Ammonium Chloride Uses

Ammonium chloride possess a substantial amount of nitrogen, like urea it is used in making  fertilizers and it is a useful addition to yeast and bacteria growth media.

Ammonium chloride is employed in the preparation of metals before the galvanization process, as it helps provide a surface free of metal oxides.

Moreover, ammonium chloride is a very useful compound for the pharmaceutical industry as it helps in making expectorants and cough syrup.

It is also involved in the treatments of medical conditions and to preserve and sustain the urine ph.


Ammonium chloride is a chemical substance used in the laboratories, hospital facilities, etc. While working with this compound, you should adhere to general safety rules to avoid hazards and accidents that might occur working with it.

This article provides useful information on how to use, prepare, and dispose of the substance safely.

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