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Ammonium carbonate
Ammonium carbonate.png
IUPAC name
CAS number 506-87-6 Yes check.svgY
ChemSpider ID 10048
Molecular formula (NH4)2CO3
Molar mass 96.09 g/mol
Appearance White powder
Density 1.50 g/cm3
Melting point

58 °C

Boiling point


Solubility in water Soluble, decomposes in hot water
MSDS External MSDS
Main hazards Irritant
Related compounds
Other anions Ammonium bicarbonate
Other cations Sodium carbonate
Potassium carbonate
 Yes check.svgY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Ammonium carbonate is the commercial salt, formerly known as sal volatile or salt of hartshorn. Ammonium carbonate is used when crushed as a smelling salt. It can be crushed when needed in order to revive someone who has fainted. It is also known as "baker's ammonia" and was a forerunner to the more modern leavening agents baking soda and baking powder.



Ammonium carbonate was historically obtained by the dry distillation of nitrogenous organic matter such as hair, horn, decomposed urine, etc.

Currently, it is produced by heating a mixture of ammonium chloride, or ammonium sulfate and chalk, to redness in iron retorts, the vapors being condensed in leaden receivers. The crude product is refined by sublimation, when it is obtained as a white fibrous mass, which consists of a mixture of ammonium bicarbonate, NH4HCO3, and ammonium carbonate, (NH4)2CO3, in molecular proportions; on account of its possessing this constitution it is sometimes called ammonium polycarbonate. It possesses a strong ammonium smell, and on digestion with alcohol the carbonate is dissolved and a residue of ammonium bicarbonate is left; a similar decomposition taking place when the polycarbonate is exposed to air.

Ammonia gas passed into a strong aqueous solution of the polycarbonate converts it into normal ammonium carbonate, (NH4)2CO3, which can be obtained in the crystalline condition from a solution prepared at about 30 °C. This compound on exposure to air gives off ammonia and passes back to ammonium bicarbonate. It has pH of 9.


As well as in smelling salts, ammonium carbonate is still used as a leavening agent in particular recipes, particular northern European and Scandinavian. It can sometimes be substituted with baking powder, but the finished product will never be as airy and light as the original recipe. Icelandic loftkökur (air biscuits) for instance simply cannot be made with anything other than ammonium carbonate.

Buckleys cough syrup from Canada also uses ammonium carbonate as an active ingredient intended to help relieve symptoms of bronchitis.

See also



Simple English

File:Uhličitan amonný.JPG
Ammonium carbonate

Ammonium carbonate, also known as baker's ammonia or sal volatile, is a chemical compound. Its chemical formula is (NH4)2CO3. It contains ammonium and carbonate ions.



Ammonium carbonate is a white solid. It dissolves in water. It reacts with acids to make an ammonium salt and carbon dioxide. It has a slight smell of ammonia. It reacts with bases to make ammonia gas.


Ammonium carbonate is made by reacting ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, and calcium carbonate in a furnace. The ammonium carbonate is exposed to air to decompose any bicarbonate and then is sold. It can also be made by reacting carbon dioxide with ammonia.


It is used to make bread rise. It can also be used in cough syrup.

See also


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