Ammonium Carbonate

Ammonium Carbonate is a salt with the chemical formula (NH 4 )2 CO3 . Since it readily degrades into gaseous ammonia and carbon dioxide upon heating , it is also used as a leavening agent and as a sulfur salt . It is also known as Baker’s ammonia and was the precursor to the more modern leavening agents baking soda and baking powder . It is a component previously known as sal volatile and Hartshorne’s salt. and produces a pungent odor when baked.


Ammonium carbonate is formed by the combination of carbon dioxide and aqueous ammonia. By 1997 about 80,000 tonnes/year had been produced. [1]


Ammonium carbonate decomposes slowly at standard temperature and pressure in two ways. Thus any initial pure sample of ammonium carbonate will soon become a mixture with various byproducts.

Ammonium carbonate can spontaneously decompose into ammonium bicarbonate and ammonia:

(NH4 )2 CO3 → NH4 HCO3 + NH3

Which further decomposes into another molecule of carbon dioxide, water and ammonia:

NH4 HCO3 → H2O + CO2 + NH3

It also acts as an acidity regulator and has an E number of E503. It can be replaced with baking powder, but it can affect both the taste and texture of the finished product. Baker’s ammonia should be used to make thin dry baked goods such as crackers and cookies. This allows the strong ammonia odor to bake in. It should not be used to make moist baked goods such as cakes because ammonia is hydrophilic and will leave a strong bitter taste.

Its use as a leavening agent goes back centuries, with associated controversy:

In the third type of bread, the addition of some ammoniated salt (usually sub-carbonate) to the flour gives it a vesicular appearance, which during the process of baking is completely converted into a gaseous substance, making the dough airy. To swell in small pots that eventually burst, allowing the gas to escape, leaving the bread highly porous. Mr. Ekum in his treatise on Pak Poison, has stigmatized this process as “fraud”, but, in our opinion, the most unjust. Bakers would never adopt it but out of necessity: when good yeast cannot be obtained, it makes an admirable and completely harmless substitute; As the baker’s cost is high, this reduces his profit, while the consumer benefits from the bread retaining the solid material, which is destroyed by the fermentation process as alcohol and carbonic acid gas. [3]

Other uses

Ammonium carbonate is the main component of aromatic salts, although the commercial scale of their production is small. Buckley’s cough syrup from Canada today uses ammonium carbonate as an active ingredient to help relieve symptoms of bronchitis. It is also used as an emetic. It is also found in smokeless tobacco products, such as Scholl’s, and is used in aqueous solutions as a photographic lens cleaning agent, such as Eastman Kodak’s “Kodak Lens Cleaner.”

It is also used to lure apple worms into Washington state, to monitor the spread of infection and to adjust the limits of apple maggot quarantine zones. [4]

Properties of ammonium carbonate:

  • It (ammonium carbonate structure) is a white solid, crystalline and colourless.
  • It has a strong odor and ammoniacal flavor.
  • It decomposes into ammonia, water and carbon dioxide at 58 °C.
  • It is soluble in water and less soluble in alcohol.
  • It forms hydrogen bridge with water.


Ammonium carbonate is a salt with the chemical formula (NH4)2CO3 . Since it readily degrades to gaseous ammonia and carbon dioxide upon heating, it is also used as a leavening agent and as a salt odorant . It is also known as baker’s ammonia and was the precursor to the more modern leavening agents used in baking soda and baking powder. It is an ingredient formerly known as sal astringent and Hartshorne’s salt .

The chemical formula (NH 4) 2 CO 3 H 2 O Only this monohydrate is known. Usually with charcoal. Colorless crystals that dissolve well in water . _ It is unstable in air , releasing ammonia and slowly becoming ammonium bicarbonate ( NH4 ) HCO3 . When heated, the solid decomposes into ammonia and carbon dioxide at 58 °C and in aqueous solution at 70 °C. Commercially Available Charcoal Ammonium Bicarbonate and Ammonium Carbamate NH 2 Coone4 is double salt . Used as an aqueous solution. Reagents, pharmaceuticals, mordants.

Frequently Asked Question

What does ammonium carbonate do?

Ammonium carbonate is used in flavoring salts, baking powder, fire extinguishers, ammonium casein gum, ceramics and in dyeing textiles. It is also used as an aqueous neutralization/alkalinization agent for paper (AIC Book and Paper Catalog).

How do you make ammonium carbonate?

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 sold. It can also be made by reacting carbon dioxide with ammonia.

What is the pH of ammonium carbonate?

pH 7.8
Ammonium bicarbonate (NH4HCO3) (50 mM, pH 7.8)

How do you test for ammonium carbonate?

Ammonium ions can be detected in the solution by adding a dilute sodium hydroxide solution and heating it slowly. If ammonium ions are present, they will convert to ammonia gas. Ammonia has a characteristic choking odor. It also turns moist red litmus paper or damp Universal Indicator paper blue.

What is another name for ammonium carbonate?

It is also known as Baker’s ammonia and was the precursor to the more modern leavening agents baking soda and baking powder.