Interesting Facts about Ammonium Nitrate
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound with the formula NH4NO3. It is composed of nitric acid and salt of ammonia. In room temperature, ammonium nitrate appears in a white crystalline form and it is also colorless. Its melting point is at 169.6 degrees Celsius or 337.3 degrees Fahrenheit. These crystals are rhombohedral in shape but when they are subjected to temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius, they change to monoclinic crystals.
Ammonium nitrate was said to be developed Germans which they used as fertilizers instead of Chilean Nitrates since it is a lot cheaper. Commercially, it is prepared by mixing nitric acid and ammonia salt. The reaction from the two substances combined will form Ammonium Nitrate. The kind of ammonium nitrate sold in the market contains an average of 33.5 percent of nitrogen. This compound is very soluble in water; and if the water which ammonium nitrate was dissolved at is heated, the by- product will be nitrous oxide which is commonly referred to as laughing gas.
Ammonium Nitrate and fertilizers
Ammonium Nitrate is generally used as a fertilizer. It is actually sold in the form of pellets that are coated with clay. The reason why it is very popular in agriculture is because of the high nitrogen amount in this compound. Nitrogen is a very important plant nutrient that assists in the growth and metabolic processes that the plant undergoes. Agriculturists love using ammonium nitrate since it is a cheap alternative to expensive fertilizers. It can also yield rapid growth and may increase the fruit production capacity of a plant. It may also affect the quality of green leafy vegetables since the nitrogen which is used by the plants is actually very helpful in the process of photosynthesis. Another famous use of ammonium nitrate is as an additive in explosives. Ammonium nitrate is sensitive to heat and any application of this external factor can lead to explosion. It is a strong oxidizing agent. This means that it can actually remove certain electrons from other reactants when subjected to a redox chemical reaction. This is the reason why ammonium nitrates are paired and added in combustibles like TNT and others.
Ammonium Nitrate and explosives
Aside from that, ammonium nitrate is also the main component of an explosive called ANFO which stands for Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil. It is an explosive mixture which is used widely in mining. ANFO is composed of 94 percent ammonium nitrate and 6 percent fuel oil. The ammonium nitrate will serve as the oxidizing agent for the fuel. Another interesting fact about this compound is that it is actually hygroscopic. A hygroscopic substance is something that can easily collect water molecules from the environment where it is placed. Because of this reason, ammonium nitrates should not be stored in humid areas since water can easily affect the compound’s explosive function. Ammonium nitrates are now regulated by the government since it is already used to create fertilizer bombs. These are improvised explosive devices that other people use in terrorism. Ammonium nitrate can be very helpful in agriculture but correct storage and handling should always be observed.