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Ammonium sulfate

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Ammonium sulfate
Ammonium sulfate structure.png


Systematic name Diazanium Sulfate
Other names

Ammonium Sulfate
Diammonium Sulfate
Sulfuric Acid
Diammonium Salt

Molecular formula (NH4)2SO4
SMILES [NH4+].[NH4+].[O-]S(=O)(=O)[O-]
Molar mass Molar mass::132.14 g/mol
Appearance Fine white hygroscopic granules or crystals.
CAS number CAS number::7783-20-2
Density and phase [[Density::1.769 g/cm3 (20 °C)]], ?
Solubility in water

70.6 g/100 mL (0 °C)
74.4 g/100 mL (20 °C)
103.8 g/100 mL (100 °C)

Melting point Melting point::235 - 280°C (455 - 536F)(508 - 553K) (decomposes)
Boiling point Boiling point::Not applicable
Acidity (pKa) 5.5 (0.1M aqueous solution)
Viscosity Not applicable
MSDS Material safety data sheet
NFPA 704

NFPA 704 svg.png

Flash point Non-flammable
Related compounds
Other anions

Ammonium thiosulfate
Ammonium sulfite
Ammonium bisulfate
Ammonium persulfate

Other cations

Sodium sulfate
Potassium sulfate

Related compounds Ammonium iron(II) sulfate
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Disclaimer and references

Ammonium Sulfate is an inorganic salt that appears in brown-gray or white granules. This compound has many different names, including Diammonium Sulfate, Sulfuric Acid and Diammonium Salt. However, it is most commonly known as Ammonium Sulfate; this name is chosen by the IUPAC. The two most popular methods that are used to produce Ammonium Sulfate are saturation and the gypsum method. This compound could cause symptoms, such as redness, itching, and pain if people directly contact it. It can also cause fire or explosion if it is mixed with oxidizers, such as Potassium Nitrate (KNO3), Potassium Nitrite (KNO2), and Potassium Chlorate (KClO3). Ammonium Sulfate is used widely in many different industries and products, such as the printed circuit board, purifying proteins, and baking breads. The most popular usage of Ammonium Sulfate is in fertilizer.


Ammonium Sulfate appears as brown-gray or white granules [1]. It is an odorless substance[1] . The compound is soluble [1] . However, in alcohol and acetone, Ammonium Sulfate becomes insoluble [1] . When the compound decomposes, it releases a poisonous gas that is very dangerous for people [1] . It can cause itching, pain and redness on people’s skin [2]. The victims should flush the area with water and then apply medical treatment[2] . If the victims have more serious symptoms, they should immediately contact a doctor to receive medicine[2] .

Synthesis / Occurrences

A Gypsum crystal
A man is standing inside a stirred vessel.
A rotary vacuum filter illustration.


In the coke-plant, coke-oven gas was a product after the pyrolysis process, the heating of an organic material in the absence of oxygen, of coal[3]. Coke-oven gas is a fuel gas that was produced from many different elements and compounds, including ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), light oil, pitch, tar and other minerals[4]. In order to produce Ammonium Sulfate from coke-oven gas, the scientists required the help from the saturator machine [5]. The saturator is a cylindrical vessel with a conical bottom; it can cause an element or compound to unite with another substance by slowly bubbling the gas through the substance [6].Inside the machine, a tube is connected from the surface to the bottom to deliver nitrogen from the outside [5]. Hot water rings are provided on top of the saturator [5]. The machine always containes acid liquid, called liquor that had 4-5% Sulfuric acid (H2SO4)[5]. After the coke-oven gas gets inside the vessel, the gas started to rise[5]. Then, the Ammonia (NH3) in the gas will unite with the Sulfuric acid in the liquor [5].

NH3 + H2SO4 → NH4 (HSO4)

NH4 (HSO4) + NH3 → (NH4)2SO4

After the synthesis of Ammonia and Sulfuric acid occurrs, Ammonium Sulfate is produced and it stays at the bottom of the saturator [5].


Another method that is used to produce Ammonium Sulfate is the synthesis of ground Gypsum and Ammonium Carbonate [(NH4)2CO3][7]. Gypsum is a more common name for Calcium Sulphate Dihydrate (CaSO4.2H2O)[8]. This substance is normally found underground or under the sea near deposits of limestone or other minerals formed by evaporation [9]. It forms as layers or round lumps of gypsum up to few meters thick [8]. Many materials, such as chalk, drywall panels and fertilizer, are made from Gypsum [9] . Because Gypsum is formed during evaporation, its chemical structure always contains water molecules inside it[9] . Therefore, the substance is heated to remove 50% to 70% of moisture[9] . After that, Gypsum is screened to remove mud stones that attached to it, then crushed and finally ground [8]. Ground Gypsum is the necessary required material in order to synthesize Ammonium Sulfate [7].

First, ground Gypsum has to react with Ammonium Carbonate in a stirred vessel to produce a reacted solution [7] . This process takes several hours to complete. Then, the product of the reaction between ground Gypsum and Ammonium Carbonate is poured into the rotary vacuum filter to filter the solution [7] . The slightly cloudy Ammonium Sulfate is filtered in the filter press, and acidified with H2SO4 [7] . Finally, the solution will go through many stages of evaporation crystallizers to form grained Ammonium Sulfate [7] .


Ammonium Sulfate fertilizer

Ammonium Sulfate serves as a beneficial compound to many different business fields. This compound is best-known as the most common use and most distinctive inorganic nitrogen fertilizer [10]. Inorganic fertilizer is produced by chemical compounds that quickly release their nutrients to the plant [11]. This type of fertilizer often threatened the plans because of the excessive required nutrients in the plant and the surplus nutrients could leak into the soil, which would block the water and other nutrients transporting the plant [11] . It also does not build up the richness in texture and composition of the soil[11] . The most important concern is that they increase the amount of fossil fuels composed in the fertilizer to the environment which would increase the greenhouse-effect[11] . Despite all the disadvantages that the inorganic fertilizer has, Ammonium Sulfate is very popular in the irrigation field because of its low cost and rapid transporting nutrients [11]. It could be used for the lawn all years round with simple application method. This fertilizer also increases both the quantity of the crops product and the quality of soil [12]. The Ammonium Sulfate fertilizer is suitable for rice seedling, tea, grass, vegetables and fruit trees [11] . It is also used for crops that lack sulfur, low chlorine tolerance, and sulfur-philic [11] .

In food and beverages

Many bakeries and fast-food restaurants, including Subway and McDonald’s, use Ammonium Sulfate as an ingredient in their baking [13]. Even though Ammonium Sulfate is used for fertilizer, this compound is totally safe to eat after baking it in bread [13]. Before baking, this compound is put on top of the yeast of bread, buns and sandwiches to nourish the yeast and speed up the baking time. It adds the nice golden color for the breads which attractthe customers. Ammonium Sulfate also helps the bread to maintain its taste and stay in the preservative condition for a longer amount of time [14].

In the beverage industry, Ammonium Sulfate is added into beer and wine with the yeast [15]. It functions the same as when putting it in the bread. This compound preserves the beverage so it can keep for many years [15].

In human body

In an aqueous environment, such as the human body, Ammonium Sulfate will break down into Ammonium (NH4) and Sulfate (SO4). Ammonium helps maintaining the acid-base balance in the body [8]. The acid-base balance is the right balance of acid and basic (alkaline) compounds for the blood to function properly [16]. The liver receives and metabolizes the ammonium. Then, the kidney will receive the absorbed ammonium from the liver and excrete them [8]. The lacking or surplus of the acid-base balance could cause fatigue, shortness of breath and affect other internal organs[16].

Sulfate is a component compound in human blood [8]. When the intestine contains excess sulfate, the intestinal sulfate will bond to water into the lumen and cause diarrhea [8] . Sulfate also has another mission in the human body. It plays an important role in detoxification, a process of removing the toxic substances out of the body [8].

Ammonium Sulfate precipitation

Ammonium Sulfate precipitation is a common application to purify the proteins out of a solution. The compound acts as a salt in the precipitation process [17]. Since proteins have hydrophilic amino acid side-chains facing outward, it forms a hydrogen bond with water molecules [18]. A hydrogen bond is a bond between an electronegative atom and a hydrogen atom bonded to another electronegative atom [19]. In order to precipitate proteins out of a solution, Ammonium Sulfate is put into the solution so it will distract the bonding between the hydrophilic amino acid of proteins and water molecules [18]. If the concentration of Ammonium Sulfate is low, the precipitation of proteins will not occur [20]. The only thing happening is the increasing solubility of proteins [20]. This process is known as “Salting In” [20]. However, if the concentration of Ammonium Sulfate gains up, the molecules in Ammonium Sulfate will compete with the hydrophilic amino acid of proteins to bond with the hydrogen atoms [20]. Therefore the more proteins are dissolved from bonding with water molecules, the more solubility proteins become [20]. This will result in the precipitation of proteins. This procedure is called “Salting out”[20]. The solubility of proteins depends on many factors, including the number and position of polar groups, molecular weight of the protein, pH of the solution, and temperature at which the precipitation is performed [17]. Using Ammonium Sulfate to precipitate proteins is more popular than any other methods because it does not change the proteins structure and can reverse the proteins back to its original solution [21]

A printed circuit board

Other uses

Ammonium Sulfate is used in the production of printed circuit boards [22]. Circuit boards are placed inside many electrical devices, including computers, mobile phones and digital watches [23]. When an electrical source enters the devices, the conductive wires on the board will distribute the electricity to other parts of the device[23] . The connecting of the wires and other components of the machine helps the printed circuit board control how the electrical sources are used and charged [23] .

Ammonium Sulfate is used in flame retardant material because its flaming temperature rise slowly, therefore increasing the remainder of the material[22] .

This compound is an ingredient in making vaccines against these disease: diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough [22].

The Hazard Category Color System

Example of a Hazard Color System sign

All elements and compounds must be labeled when they are put into containers[24]. Specific labeling of container contents helps warn against the dangers associated with certain chemicals. The Hazard Category Color System was devised to warn against hazards and the threats of elements and compounds [24]. The Hazard Category Color System contains four categories, including Health, Flammability, Reactivity and Contact, that indicate the number of ranging from 0 (for low level of risk) to 4 (the high level of risk)[24].

The Health category (the blue box) lists out the personal injury that might affected a person [24]. Ammonium sulfate rating is 2 [2], which means compound only causes temporary irritation [24]. However, if the eyes and the skin become affected by the compound, both will receive the same symptoms, such as redness, itching and pain [2] . The patients could cure these symptoms by flushing the skin or eyes with lots of water for 15 minutes and receiving medical treatment[2]. If people become affected through the respiratory system, including coughing and shortness of breath, the patients should be taken to fresh air area or given oxygen [2]. The ingestion’s symptoms are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea [2]. Patients should receive medicine in order to relieve the pain.

The Flammability Category (the red box) refers to the compound ability to create or sustain a fire [24]. The rating of Ammonium Sulfate in this category is 1 [2], which the compound will not burn under normal fire conditions [24]. However, it could explode if it was mixed with oxidizers, such as Potassium Nitrate (KNO3), Potassium Nitrite (KNO2), and Potassium Chlorate (KClO3)[2].

The Reactivity Category (the yellow box) explains how reactive the compound is under normal laboratory conditions [24]. Ammonium Sulfate’s reactive characteristic is 0[2], meaning the compound slightly explodes or reacts with air, water or other common substances[24]. In order to prevent any accident happening, the containers of ammonium sulfate should be stored in cool, dry and ventilated area and any physical damage to the containers [2] . It should be kept away from any substances that it can react with, such as Potassium nitrate (KNO3), Potassium Nitrite (KNO2), and Potassium Chlorate (KClO3)[2].

The Contact category (the white box) refers to how dangerous physical contact with the compound under normal laboratory conditions [24]. The contact rating of this compound is 1 [2] , meaning it could cause some harmful damage [24]. Any one who has to do experiments or observe this compound are recommended to wear gloves, goggles and lab coat to avoid any harmful situations that could occur [2].


Preparation of Ammonium sulfate


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