What is the Difference Between Ammonium Nitrate and Ammonium Sulfate

The key difference between ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate is that ammonium nitrate forms from the reaction between ammonia and nitric acid, whereas ammonium sulfate forms from the reaction between ammonia and sulfuric acid.

Ammonium nitrate is an inorganic compound having the chemical formula NH4NO3, and ammonium sulfate is an inorganic compound having the chemical formula (NH4)2SO4. Both these are salts of ammonia with a strong, irritating odor.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Ammonium Nitrate  
3. What is Ammonium Sulfate
4. Ammonium Nitrate vs Ammonium Sulfate in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Ammonium Nitrate vs Ammonium Sulfate 

What is Ammonium Nitrate?

Ammonium nitrate is an inorganic compound having the chemical formula NH4NO3. This substance is a salt consisting of an ammonium cation and nitrate anion. Furthermore, it appears as a white solid at room temperature, and it can easily dissolve in water. Moreover, ammonium nitrate occurs as a natural mineral in nature.

Figure 01: The Chemical Structure of Ammonium Nitrate

Some chemical facts about this compound are as follows:

  • Molar mass is 80.043 g/mol
  • Appears as a white or grey solid
  • Melting point is 169.6 °C
  • Above 210 °C, it decomposes
  • The crystal structure of the compound is trigonal

The major use of ammonium nitrate compound can be found in agriculture; it is highly useful as a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Apart from that, we can use it in producing explosive mixtures for mining and quarrying purposes. Since the dissolution of this compound in water is highly endothermic, it is useful in some instant cold packs as well.

What is Ammonium Sulfate?

Ammonium sulfate is an inorganic compound having the chemical formula (NH4)2SO4. It usually consists of an ammonium cation linked to a sulfate anion. Therefore, this compound has two ammonium cations per sulphate anion. It is an inorganic salt of sulfate with many important uses.

Figure 02: The Chemical Structure of Ammonium Sulfate

The molar mass of ammonium sulfate is 132.14 g/mol. This compound appears as fine, hygroscopic granules or crystals. Furthermore, the melting point of this compound can range from 235 to 280 °C; above this temperature range, the compound tends to decompose. We can produce ammonium sulfate compounds by treating ammonia with sulfuric acid. For this preparation, we can use a mixture of ammonia gas and water vapour in a reactor. In addition, we need to add concentrated sulfuric acid into this reactor, and then the reaction between these components will form ammonium sulfate.

When considering the applications of ammonium sulfate, we can use it as a fertilizer, mainly for alkaline soils. Furthermore, we can use it in the production of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc. In addition to these, we use this compound for the purification of protein via precipitation in the biochemistry laboratory. It is also useful as a food additive.

What is the Difference Between Ammonium Nitrate and Ammonium Sulfate?

Ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate are ammonium salts. The key difference between ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate is that ammonium nitrate forms from the reaction between ammonia and nitric acid, whereas ammonium sulfate forms from the reaction between ammonia and sulfuric acid. Moreover, ammonium nitrate is available as a white crystal solid, while ammonium sulfate is available as a fine powder, granules, or crystals that are hygroscopic.

The below infographic presents the differences between ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Ammonium Nitrate vs Ammonium Sulfate

Ammonium nitrate is an inorganic compound having the chemical formula NH4NO3, while ammonium sulfate is an inorganic compound having the chemical formula (NH4)2SO4. The key difference between ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate is that ammonium nitrate forms from the reaction between ammonia and nitric acid, whereas ammonium sulfate forms from the reaction between ammonia and sulfuric acid.