Ammonium bicarbonate

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Ammonium bicarbonate
Ammonium bicarbonate.jpg
Food grade NH4HCO3
IUPAC name
Ammonium hydrogen carbonate
Other names
Ammonium hydrogen carbonate
Azanium bicarbonate
Azanium hydrogen carbonate
Bicarbonate of ammonia
Baking soda
Powdered baking ammonia
Jmol-3D images Image
Molar mass 79.056 g/mol
Appearance White crystalline solid
Odor Ammonia
Density 1.586 g/cm3
Melting point 41.9 °C (107.4 °F; 315.0 K) (with decomposition)
Boiling point 107 °C (225 °F; 380 K) (complete decomposition)
11.9 g/100 ml (0 °C)
21.6 g/100 ml (20 °C)
36.6 g/100 ml (40 °C)
Solubility Reacts with acids, alkalis
Insoluble in acetone, benzene, ethanol, ethers, methanol
Solubility in glycerol 10 g/100 ml
Vapor pressure 58.9 mm Hg (25.4 °C)
Safety data sheet Sigma-Aldrich
Flash point Non-flammable
Related compounds
Related compounds
Ammonium carbonate
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Infobox references

Ammonium bicarbonate or ammonium hydrogen carbonate is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula NH4HCO3. In older literature it may be referred to as hartshorn, as is ammonium carbonate.



Ammonium carbonate will slowly decompose to give off ammonia, carbon dioxide and water vapors. The reaction occurs faster at higher temperatures:

NH4HCO3 → NH3 + H2O + CO2

Ammonium carbamate is another potential by-product of decomposition.

When treated with acids, it releases carbon dioxide:

NH4HCO3 + HCl → NH4Cl + H2O + CO2

It also reacts with alkali metal halides, giving ammonium halide and alkali metal bicarbonate:

NH4HCO3 + LiCl → NH4Cl + LiHCO3
NH4HCO3 + NaBr → NH4Br + NaHCO3


Ammonium bicarbonate is a white salt, soluble in water, but insoluble in organic solvents like methanol, diethyl ether, hydrocarbons. It will slowly decompose over time, even at low temperatures, releasing ammonia gas, which gives the salt a strong smell. The decomposition occurs faster at high temperatures.


Ammonium bicarbonate can be bought from food stores as "smelly" baking powder, either very pure or mixed with other carbonates, such as sodium bicarbonate or magnesium carbonate. To determine if it's pure ammonium bicarbonate, take a small amount of the smelly baking powder and heat it until it decomposes. If no residue remains, then it's very pure. Sometimes this type of baking powder is referred to as simply "ammonium", usually the label name.


Ammonium bicarbonate can be made by bubbling an excess of carbon dioxide gas through a cold solution of ammonia.

CO2 + NH3 + H2O → NH4HCO3

Alternatively, it can be made by heating a mixture of ammonium nitrate, sodium bicarbonate or carbonate, and water in one container, and channeling the generated gases into a chilled empty container, where it will crystallize on the walls.


  • Ammonium carbonate synthesis
  • Generate ammonia gas
  • Synthesize any other ammonium salt. Both forms of Hartshorn are very convenient precursors to all salts of ammonium.



Ammonium bicarbonate gives off ammonia fumes, which are irritating and toxic if they build up in a closed environment.


Ammonium bicarbonate is best stored in closed containers and kept in cold places. To limit the ammonia gas released, you can store the ammonium bicarbonate in a resealable bag, which in turn can be placed in a container. Avoid storing this compound near anything with copper or copper alloys, as well as the acid cabinet.


Ammonium bicarbonate can be neutralized with any acid and safely dumped in both soil and down the drain, as it poses no danger to the environment. It can also be a very good nitrogen source for plants.


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