Talk:Ammonium nitrate

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Danger Level[edit]

Under "Health Hazards" the sentence "Ammonium nitrate is not an extremely hazardous chemical" is very misleading, as it ignores its reactivity, explosive properties, and health hazards. In addition, MSDS sheets are not standardized nor reliable definive sources of information about chemicals. Thus, an MSDS sheet should not be used to represent this chemical as "not extremely hazardous" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:46, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

This could be clarified simply by saying "ammonium nitrate is not extremely hazardous by itself." While MSDS sheets are not standardized, they comply with regulations.Phmoreno (talk) 00:59, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Melting Point[edit]

a few weeks ago, the melting point was listed as 169 deg. celcius. Now it's 191. Which is it? Statue2 20:25, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

The table at the end of the article, under the heading Crystalline Phases, contains the correct value, 169.6 degrees. I have changed the 191 to 169.6. Thank you for noticing. Snezzy (talk) 07:18, 1 February 2008 (UTC)


Someone should add the information about the differrent level of higroscopicity for the differrent cystaline formations.This would be nice.Sorry for my bad English,I am learning it now. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) on 22 April 2007. -- Jokes Free4Me (talk) 16:13, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Note that it's spelled hygroscopy. -- Jokes Free4Me (talk) 16:13, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

As an addition to this, I'd like to add that if heated *slowly* above 170 Centigrade, ammonium nitrate releases laughing gas. However, do not attempt inhaling the vapor from a commercial product, because it has added magnesium and calcium which, depending on the process of granulating chosen by the manufacturer, may result in toxic vapors, and the result will definitely not make you laugh. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) on 20 September 2004. -- Jokes Free4Me (talk) 16:13, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Moved text in from the ammonium article[edit]

I just moved a whole chunk of text in this article from the ammonium article. It does contain good information, but also some double info. If anybody wants to cut the text up: please do. If not, I'll doit later. Wim van Dorst 20:37, 2005 Jun 21 (UTC).


Is there evidence of use in fireworks? My understanding is it makes a poor pyrotechnic oxidizer, and is rarely used. Also, my reasonably thorough knowledge suggests it is *not* used in model rockets at all, and only occasionally used in experimental / amatuer rockets. Usually potassium nitrate and ammonium perchlorate are used instead.

Although ammonium nitrate is used for slower burn rate rockets. When ammonium nitrate is combined with binder and magnesium in the correct ratios a good rocket propellant is formed.

The slower burn rate does not really effect smaller scale rockets and ammonium nitrate's longer burn rate means the fuel burns for longer propelling the rocket futher.

Well, it depends on your definition of fireworks and poor are, it makes some pretty nice explosives, and smoke bombs if used properly granted it's probably the poorest, but it does make a pretty decent improvised explosive and smokescreen. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:01, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Better Information[edit]

Ammonium Nitrate is generally not refered to as "saltpeter". Historically the term "saltpeter" refers only to potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate (see Wikipedia entry for saltpeter).

In addition, the major hazard of ammonium nitrate is that it is a strong oxodizer, and not that it is shock sensitive. For information on this compound go to an MSDS at: - 19k thank

manufacturing of ammonium nitrate[edit]

As someone knowledgeable about this subject, I will make the following comment and have edited the page. The article stated that manufacturing ammonium nitrate (AN) is "quite easy". Actually, it could be considered "simple" but not easy at all. You have to react nitric acid and ammonia, which is a very exothermic and violent reaction. This gives you an AN solution of around 83% strength. Then, to make the solid AN, you have to evaporate the water, giving AN "melt" of between 95 and 99.9% AN concentration, which then must be converted to solid "prills" or granules by other simple but not easy processes. All in all, it is a very equipment and capital-intensive process, and should NEVER BE ATTEMPTED BY AMATEURS OR IN IMROVISED EQUIPMENT! Again, it is simple in concept and in regards to chemistry, but by no means easy. In the fertilizer industry, it is considered one of the more difficult processes to make a good commercial product.

I am a person with over 15 yrs experience in the industry, having visited nearly every AN plant in N and S America, as well as a few in other parts of the world. I also have extensive laboratory experience in working with AN.

(the history of AN was also removed) History:

Ammonium nitrate, NH4NO3, is prepared by neutralising nitric acid with ammonia, or ammonium carbonate, or by double decomposition between potassium nitrate and ammonium sulfate. It can be obtained in three different crystalline forms, the transition points of which are 35 °C, 83 °C and 125 °C. It is easily soluble in water, a considerable lowering of temperature taking place during the operation; on this account it is sometimes used in the preparation of freezing mixtures.

On gentle heating, it is decomposed into water and nitrous oxide. Berthelot showed in 1883 that if ammonium nitrate is rapidly heated the following reaction takes place with explosive violence: 2NH4NO3 → 4H2O + 2N2 + O2.

In combination with gasoline or other liquid hydrocarbons it is a widely used industrial explosive, being particularly useful in open pit mining and is known as ANFO. The detonation rate is about 3000 feet per second (900 m/s); relatively slow compared to other high explosives, which detonate at over 25,000 ft/s (7,600 m/s), (1,000 m/s as a general minimum, though any material capable of detonation can be considered a high explosive). This explosive combines the advantages of low cost and stability, requiring a high velocity explosive primer to begin detonation. It is sometimes used in small packets to break up snow cornices in avalanche control.

Ammonium nitrate confined in large quantities (such as might be found in a ship's cargo hold) can detonate explosively if combined with hydrocarbons and heated sufficiently by a fire. A fire in a ship carrying ammonium nitrate waterproofed with wax was the cause of a devastating explosion resulting in the Texas City, Texas disaster.. On July 28, 1987 two teenage boys mixed zinc dust, ammonium nitrate and ammonium chloride from one of their father's lab. Water hit their pile and started a violent fire. The fire destroyed 6 homes and killed one of the boys.

(I removed the leading spaces from the anonymous author's above four paragraphs so that they would be easily visible and not stick off to the right of the screen.) Snezzy (talk) 07:06, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

11:46, 19 June 2010 (UTC)PROF MAD11:46, 19 June 2010 (UTC) Ammonium Nitrate Synthesis (the long winded route). NH4NO3 was achieved by 3 methods simultaneously, a)Sodium nitrate + ammonium sulphate (cooled to 0 C.), the NH4NO3 liquor filtered off (Na2SO4) ~7%). b)CaCl2 + NH4OH -> NH4Cl + Ca(OH)2 (ppt)(+CO2 from atmosphere on drying -> CaCO3 The Ca2+ salts reacted with HNO3 give Ca(NO3)2. XS NH4OH ppt's Ca(OH) in mix a) and c) neutralising XS NH4OH with HNO3, in stage b). (long-winded = euphemism for ....? The NH4OH would not dry and crytstallise with ease, so I kept switching between producing Ca2+ or NH4+ nitrates. I ended up with a solution of 120ml, weighing 190g, so I presumed it to be a predominantly supersarturated NH4NO3 . I gave up trying to crystallise, lest decomposition ocurred (too rapidly). I had hoped to make some ammonpulver. I had activated charcoal (not the best for pyro), but just how absorptive was it of NH4NO3 (The Ca2+ appeared to have all been ppt. out). I used two 25g batches, the first pelleted, the second ground. They both absorbed an almost equal weight on drying (the powdered slightly more), leaving 2 x 50g of 50% act. C + 50% NH4NO3 (I presume). Though it was unable to deflagrate this effecticely, mixing with NaClO3 (slightly moist - also creating NH4ClO3) in a 2:3 ratio, produced a type of black powder that appeared more powerful than (standard) BP, though with a slightly slower deflagration rate. It produced the most beautiful colours, photographed a 420fps, it to me resembled the creation of the universe (I will publish the photographs). Just to finish off, I added 1g S + 1.5g KMnO4 to the last 10 g. This completely combusted in approx 0.25sec. 11:46, 19 June 2010 (UTC)PROFMAD11:46, 19 June 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Profmad (talkcontribs)

Meth synthesis[edit]

Does anyone have references for the use in synthesis of methamphetamine? I know of no reputable source suggesting it is / can be / has been used for such. Evand 14:39, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

When ammonium compounds are used in methamphetamine production, the desired product is anhydrous ammonia in order to dissolve lithium for a reduction reaction. A strong ammonia odor often gives away meth labs. There is a case in Franklin County, Missouri of a man heating ammonium nitrate to make the anhydrous ammonia with disastrous results, and he'd have made nitrous oxide if he'd averted the explosion. [1] Reaction of ammonium nitrate or ammonium chloride with a concentrated sodium hydroxide solution produces the anhydrous ammonia and requires no heat, since the reaction generates its own. When producing in quantity, the fumes are dangerous stuff. 05:30, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Other uses and production.[edit]

Mass production is for fertilizer (not explosives article induces to) -- 18:42, 5 June 2006 (UTC) Dieter

Apperently It can be used to make meth without turning it into ammonia, useable how is someway. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:13, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Nixon ?[edit]

Could that be the Nixon Nitration Works? There is a person named Lewis Nixon who was a Capt in the 101st Airborne (Band of Brothers fame) whose parents owned a Nixon Nitration Works in New Jersey. Was it that company that had this explosion?


The "Disasters" section should probably be split into a new article. We could keep the basic description and have a {{main}} or {{see also}} put in, while the new article would be a list of the disasters with their descriptions. --Wafulz 16:32, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree - this is a pretty large section. Psu256 20:15, 17 May 2007 (UTC)
Agree. This is a large section, and AN related disasters have been historically significant; they should have their own page. Evand 00:02, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
I also agree. While it is related to Ammonium Nitrate, it isn't about the Ammonium Nitrate, it is about the disasters themselves. Personally, I am just suprised that the Oklahoma City bombing isn't in the list. Cs-137 05:07, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I am also in favour of creating a seperate article describeing the disasters. Furthermore, it is my opinion that placing the use of AN as fertiliser under the section 'Other Uses' is the world upsite down, as it is by far the most common use of ammonium nitrate around the world! The focuss of the article (as it is now) seems way too much sensationalistic (like an article of a tabloid newspaper), giving way too much attention on the spectacular properties of AN and only briefly mentioning the more benefitial sides of the chemical.Baggerman 12:35, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes someone do it already!
I will go ahead and do it. Eric Wester 15:39, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
Process complete > See Ammonium nitrate disasters. Eric Wester 15:56, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Controlled Building Demolition[edit]

It took 80,000 pounds of Ammonium Nitrate to blow the 47 central support columns in 1 world trade center 1, which created a vacuum for the building to fall into. Cs-137 05:07, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Particulate Matter / evaporation[edit]

Ammonium nitrate is an important compound of particulate matter. Because it easily evaporates, it is hard to measure using gravimetry (losses while the air flows through filter). Oderbolz (talk) 12:40, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Leagal Availibility of AN[edit]

I noted in the fertilizer section of the article that a temporary ban in northern Ireland was mentioned. I am aware that it is currently banned as a fertilizer in Canada because of its use in explosives. Dose anyone know if it is also banned in other countries? It would be helpful if someone has sources on this and could update the section on fertilizer. Ndklassen (talk) 01:08, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

It is a little premature to blame the West, Texas explosion on Ammonium Nitrate[edit]

This last line should be removed:

Ammonium nitrate is believed to have been the explosive material responsible for the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas on 17 April, 2013.[19]

I have only heard rumors that ammonium nitrate was present at the site. The Dallas News article linked at footnote 19 makes no mention of ammonium nitrate.

Becalmed (talk) 03:52, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

There is a difference in saying that the ammonium nitrate production process caused the explosion or some part of the process exploded. I do not know what products this plant made or the processes used, but any number of things can go wrong that would cause an explosion. All it takes is some sort of malfunction or operator error that mixes the wrong chemicals or air gets mixed with combustibles, especially if pressurized, or the temperature of a reactor gets out of control. If there was an ammonium nitrate product storage area involved then that would be at least part of, but not necessarily all of what exploded. Eventually we will get more details, but it is premature for anyone without inside knowledge to blame ammonium nitrate.Phmoreno (talk) 11:00, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

I removed the last paragraph which claimed that ammonium nitrate had been "ruled out" in the recent Texas disaster. The article cited in that claim explicitly stated that while a rail car carrying ammonium nitrate had been ruled out as the cause of the blast, ammonium nitrate stored at the facility had NOT been ruled out. ( ) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:06, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Ammonium nitrate accident, Aetna plant, Oakdale Pennsylvania, Sept 16, 1916[edit]


It is mentioned peripherally. A much worse accident occured two years later.

Another source:

Another Aetna Explosion

Sept. 23,1916

McDonald PA Outlook

The Oakdale Explosion

Not so severe as reported, yet, a deplorable disaster

The explosion Friday evening of last week in the Aetna Chemical plant at Oakdale while not so bad as at first reported, was, everything considered, the worst accident that has yet occurred in the Robinson valley. Five men were literally blown into fragments, a number of others in the immediate vicinity of the building were more or less injured and the property loss to the plant will probably reach four or five thousand dollars. The force of the explosion was mainly directed upwards, and large pieces of debris were thrown as far as a half a mile away. In the confusion that followed, the plant being in total darkness, great difficulty was encountered on the part of the rescuers and physicians, and the real extent of the disaster was not discovered until daylight next day. After all the wreck had been cleared up the five bodies were finally assembled, the records were carefully gone over, and it was found that all of the men employed in that section of the plant were accounted for. Following are the men who lost their lives...

Another document (note incorrect state):


the cargo containing 4,230,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate stored in 3 compartments. In 2 of the compartments or already removed to the adjacent lighters all casks, containing 1,944,500 pounds of ammonium nitrate, were destroyed, but those (2,077) in the third compartment were unloaded after the fire, mostly in sound condition. There was no explosion, despite the fierceness of the fire. Explosions occurred at the Oakdale, N. J., plant of the Aetna Powder Co. on September 15, 1916; at the du Pont plant, Gibbstown, N. J., on January 14, 1916; and at the T. A. Gillespie Loading Co. plant, at Morgan, N. J., on October 4, 1918; all three explosions occurred during the manufacture of ammonium nitrate,- apparently starting in crystallizing pans. (talk) 22:40, 11 March 2015 (UTC)