Difference Between Ammonia and Ammonium (With Table)

Ammonia vs Ammonium

Ammonia and Ammonium are compounds that contain the atoms of Nitrogen and Hydrogen. The number of the nitrogen and hydrogen atoms are different in both of them. They are greatly used in our day-to-day life.

The difference between Ammonia and Ammonium is that Ammonia is made up of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms whereas Ammonium is made up of one nitrogen atom and four hydrogen atoms.

Also, Ammonia is un-ionized while Ammonium is ionized. One more noticeable physical difference between them is the smell they give off. Ammonia gives out a strong smell of you go near it whereas Ammonium does not give out any smell at all.

To obtain ammonia, a strong base has to be added to concentrated Ammonium salt solution. Also, if water is added to ammonia and mixed, a portion of ammonia will change into Ammonium. High concentrations of ammonia gas can be extremely hazardous.

Pure Ammonium cannot be found as it’s an ion and it attaches to other charged atoms to complete it’s octate and become a neutral molecule. On the other hand, pure ammonia can be found.


 

Comparison Table Between Ammonia and Ammonium

Parameters of ComparisonAmmoniaAmmonium
CompositionIt contains one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms.It contains one nitrogen atom and four hydrogen atoms.
SmellAmmonia has a strong smell that anyone can smell if they go near it.Ammonium does not have any strong smell or does not have any smell at all.
ToxicityAmmonia is toxic and harmful to aquatic organisms.Ammonium is not toxic or harmful to any aquatic organisms.
Ionized/ un-ionizedIt is un-ionized.It is ionized.
UsesAmmonia is used in the making of fertilizers, cleansing products, plastics, pesticides and explosives.Ammonium is used in the making of fertilizers, explosive, rocket propellant, water filters and food preservatives.

 

What is Ammonia?

Ammonia is a molecule that is made up of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms. It is un-ionized and a weak base. It also gives off a strong smell when you go near it. When dissolved in water, ammonia turns into aqueous ammonia.

When exposed to air, it changes into gas. Ammonia is also toxic and harmful to aquatic organisms. Pure ammonia can be easily found. It is used in production of many things. It is used in the making of fertilizers, cleansing products, plastics, pesticides and explosives.

Ammonia in fertilizers helps the plants by fixing the absence of nitrogen in the soil. Ammonia is a building block for the synthesis of many pharmaceutical products, either directly or indirectly. High concentrations of ammonia gas can be extremely hazardous and are only used by the factories in significant quantities.

In humans, Ammonia is a metabolic waste as well as a metabolic input throughout the biosphere. For all living systems, Ammonia is a very important source of nitrogen. It is required fir the synthesis of amino acids that build up the proteins.

Ammonia
 

What is Ammonium?

Ammonium is a charged molecule that is made up of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms. It is ionized. The Ammonium cation is positively charged and it’s chemical formula is NH4+. Ammonia is produced by the protonation of ammonia.

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To do this, ammonia is dissolved in water where some part of it converts into Ammonium cation. It also does not have any specific smell to distinguish it. Unlike Ammonia, Ammonium is not harmful or toxic to aquatic organisms.

A person can never come across pure Ammonium as it is a cation and cations cannot exist freely. Generally, Ammonium cation can be found in form of a wide range of salts like ammonium carbonate, ammonium chloride and ammonium nitrate. Almost all of the ammonium salts dissolve in water.

Ammonium is not considered to be a good source of nitrogen for plants although it also is a source of nitrogen as it can be toxic to the plants. It is widely used in the production of fertilizers and explosives. It is also used as food preservative and in water filters. In rockets, it is used as a rocket propellant.

In animals, Ammonium cations are waste products and are excreted out. In case aquatic organisms like fishes, it is directly excreted into the water whereas in sharks, mammals and amphibians, the ammonium is converted to urea which is less toxic due to which it can be stored more efficiently and then excreted out.

Ammonium

Main Differences Between Ammonia and Ammonium

  • Ammonia is made up of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms whereas Ammonium is made up of one nitrogen atom and four hydrogen atoms.
  • Ammonia gives out a strong smell of you go near it whereas Ammonium does not give out any smell at all.
  • Ammonia is toxic and harmful to aquatic organisms while Ammonium is not at all toxic or harmful to aquatic organisms.
  • Ammonia is a weak base and is un-ionized whereas Ammonium is ionized.
  • Ammonia is used in the making of fertilizers, cleansing products, plastics, pesticides and explosives whereas Ammonium is used in the making of fertilizers, explosive, rocket propellant, water filters and food preservatives.

 

Conclusion

Ammonia is made up of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms whereas Ammonium is made up of one nitrogen atom and four hydrogen atoms. Ammonia gives out a strong smell whereas Ammonium does not give out any smell at all.

Ammonia is toxic and harmful to aquatic organisms while Ammonium is not at all toxic or harmful to aquatic organisms. Ammonia is a weak base and is un-ionized while on the other hand Ammonium is ionized.

In animals and aquatic organisms, both Ammonia and Ammonium are excreted out as waste products. Ammonia is used in the making of fertilizers, cleansing products, plastics, pesticides and explosives and Ammonium is used in the making of fertilizers, explosive, rocket propellant, water filters and food preservatives. Pure Ammonium cannot be found while pure ammonia can be found