What Is Ammonia?

Ammonia can be used for household chores.
Ammonia can be used for household chores. (Image: bucket close up image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com)

Ammonia is naturally produced in nature. The chemical produces a strong smell and is also used in many household products such as cleaners. If ammonia s dissolved in water, ammonia becomes known as aqueous ammonia. When exposed to air, ammonia will become a gas. When ammonia is used in high levels, irritation can occur to your body.

Ammonia Uses

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, ammonia has been used to compose fertilizers for lawns, plants and farm land. Nearly 80 percent of ammonia that is produced within the United States is used specifically for agricultural purposes. Ammonia is used to clean windows, floors, kitchen counter tops, as well as many other household appliances. Ammonia has also been used to create fabrics, pesticides, plastics and even explosives.

Ammonia can be used for household chores.
Ammonia can be used for household chores. (Image: bucket close up image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com)


Ammonia can be found virtually anywhere. The gas can be found in soil, water, air, plants and animals. However, once ammonia is exposed to the environment, the gas becomes ingested by plants, animals and bacteria. Ammonia helps to contribute to the development of nitrogen, which is necessary for plant growth.

Plants need ammonia to grow.
Plants need ammonia to grow. (Image: plants image by Melissa Schalke from Fotolia.com)

Human Exposure

High doses of ammonia exposure can be damaging to your health. Apart from burning your eyes and skin due to direct contact, the New York State Department of Health states that "ammonia can damage cells," when inhaled, swallowed or exposed to your skin. Ammonia can also cause burns to your mouth, throat and stomach if ingested. Lung damage and death may result if you're exposed to very large quantities of ammonia.

Ammonia can be hazardous.
Ammonia can be hazardous. (Image: Cleaning materials image by TekinT from Fotolia.com)

Protective Equipment

It is important when handling ammonia to take safety measures to prevent the inhalation or accidental spilling of the product onto your skin. Protective clothing and heavy duty gloves should be warn. Eye protection should also be used to prevent accidental splashing into your eyes. If you use household products containing ammonia, proper ventilation (such as opening windows or turning on fans) should be done to keep your home free from the buildup of ammonia vapors.

Turn a fan on when using ammonia products.
Turn a fan on when using ammonia products. (Image: fan image by Lucy Clark from Fotolia.com)


Always keep ammonia stored in a place kept away from your pets and children. Never mix ammonia with bleach, chlorine, oxidizers or bromine. This can result in an explosive reaction, as well as hazardous vapor production. Never leave ammonia in direct heat and sunlight. Keep your ammonia products stored in a dry, cool area.

Keep ammonia prodcuts stored safely.
Keep ammonia prodcuts stored safely. (Image: storage image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com)

Accidental Exposure

If you get ammonia onto your skin, thoroughly rinse the affected area for up to 15 minutes. If ammonia products get into the eyes, flush your eyes with water. If any ammonia products are accidentally ingested, drink milk. However, if you're vomiting or having convulsions, contact your local poison control center immediately. Never force yourself to vomit if you've ingested ammonia. If you're exposed to ammonia vapors, move to a ventilated area.

Wash your skin when exposed to ammonia.
Wash your skin when exposed to ammonia. (Image: close up of flowing water drops falling into water tank image by sasha from Fotolia.com)


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