A Beginner’s Guide to Ammonium Chloride: Uses and Safety Tips
Ammonium chloride is a common ingredient in sealants, cosmetics, fertilizers, and other products. Medically, it’s used in the treatment of cough and severe metabolic alkalosis.
This white crystalline substance helps balance the body’s pH and has mild diuretic effects. However, ammonium chloride uses go beyond its role in the medical industry.
Manufacturers use this compound to make cleaning products, shampoos, and food additives.
For example, salmiak — a type of salty licorice used in the Baltic region and Nordic countries — is based on ammonium chloride. Other dark sweets contain this food additive, too.
Small doses of ammonium chloride are unlikely to affect human health. The problem with this compound is that it poses hazards to the environment. Prolonged exposure to ammonium chloride fumes may cause respiratory problems, headaches, and eye irritation.
If you or your employees are using this compound, make sure you’re aware of its health risks. Here’s what you should know about ammonium chloride safety so that you can protect your staff!
What Is Ammonium Chloride?
Ammonium chloride is a white crystalline chemical with the molecular formula NH4Cl. It’s available in powder, liquid, and solid form and has high water solubility.
Unlike other chemicals, this inorganic compound isn’t flammable. However, it can release toxic fumes that may cause eye irritation, difficulty breathing, and cough.
When exposed to heat, ammonium chloride decomposes and emits toxic fumes that may cause a fire or explosion. Moreover, this substance poses hazards to freshwater fish and the marine environment in general.
Ammonium Chloride Uses
The primary application of this compound is as a nitrogen source in fertilizers. Pharmaceutical companies use it as an ingredient in cough medicine. Other uses of ammonium chloride may include:
- Acidifier in food products
- Flavoring agent
- Photographic contrasting agent in archaeology
- Constituent of tinning and galvanizing fluxes
- Diuretic medicine
- Glue for plywood
- Additive in non-alcoholic toners
Generally, ammonium chloride should not be used in combination with potassium chlorate, lead salts, or alkalis. As a medication, it may interact with dichlorphenamide, dextroamphetamine, and spironolactone.
How to Handle Ammonium Chloride Safely
Exposure to ammonium chloride fumes can affect the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. That’s why it’s important to train your staff and use adequate equipment when handling this substance.
Ask your employees to wear respirators, safety spectacles, and protective gloves. If they ingest this compound by mistake, they should rinse their mouths and drink a glass of water. In case of eye contact, rinse with plenty of water and see a doctor as soon as possible.
Store this chemical in airtight containers and place them in a cool, dry location. Tell your employees to keep it away from strong bases and strong acids. Evacuate the area promptly in case of accidental release.
Always wash your clothes after handling this compound. Only use it in areas with adequate ventilation and take the proper measures to prevent it from freezing or overheating.
Learn More about Ammonium Chloride and Its Hazards
Ammonium chloride is not as dangerous as sulfuric acid and other chemicals, but it still carries health risks. If handled inappropriately, it may cause severe irritation to the eyes, skin, and lungs.
Keep your employees safe by providing them with adequate training. Online-SDS, our innovative software solution, allows unlimited access to hundreds of safety data sheets and other helpful resources.
Book a demo today so that you can take the steps needed to protect your employees and stay compliant!