Application of Ammonium Bicarbonate


Baking/Food Processing

In the food industry, ammonium bicarbonate is used as a raising agent or leavening agent, as it releases gas in the baked good, creating a light texture. Examples include cookies and crackers, and steamed buns and Chinese almond cookies in China. Before modern day baking powder, it was also a staple good in households, for example in the form of hartshorn/hornsalt in Scandinavian countries. Although using ammonium bicarbonate does result in a slight ammonia smell during baking, it dissipates quickly and has no effect on the taste. However, ammonium bicarbonate cannot be used for moist, bulky baked goods, such as normal break or cakes, as some ammonia may remain trapped inside and result in an unpleasant taste.


Ammonium bicarbonate is also widely used as a nitrogen fertilizer, especially in China, as the ammonium ions can be released into the soil and either absorbed by the soil colloid, lattice-fixed or converted into nitrate nitrogen. Its benefits are that it leaves little to no residue in the soil after the ammonium ion is absorbed by the plants, has minimum impact on the pH of the soil, and is quick-acting and useful in the long run. It is limited however due to its instability and tendency to decompose. This can however be remedied by the addition of a crystalline modifier.

pH buffer

Ammonium bicarbonate is also useful as a pH buffer, buffering solutions to a slightly alkaline pH during chemical purification processes such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Its property of decomposing into volatile compounds is beneficial to this application, as the compound of interest can be easily recovered from the buffer by freeze-drying.

Cough syrups

Ammonium bicarbonate is an important component of certain cough syrups such as ‘Senega and Ammonia’, as it is an expectorant, i.e. it helps to loosen phlegm and relieve chesty coughs.

Other Application

Large quantities of this is used in the manufacture of porous plastics, ceramics, dyes, and pigments and it is also used as a foaming agent in the development of macroporous hydroxyapatite scaffolds for bone tissue engineering.

It(Ammonium bicarbonate) is a white colour crystalline powder with hygroscopic nature and hence it is packed in air tight bags. Usually it liberates Carbon dioxide (CO2) and hence used in the baking industry. It plays an important role in giving texturing the crumb structure and leavening of the food items. It also increases shelf life of the edible items and does not spoil flavor, leaves no residual odour.

Ammonium bicarbonate is also used in the manufacturing of dyes and different pigments, De-greasing of textiles items, Blowing-agent for making rubber foam products. It is also used for making cooling baths, in Ceramic industry ammonium bicarbonate is used to make light weight brick production, Catalyst manufacture and smelling salt mixed with oil of lavender.