Brief Overview

Ammonium bicarbonate, also known as powdered baking ammonia, is a white crystalline solid with a chemical formula of NH4HCO3. It has an ammonia odor and is soluble in water. It decomposes easily to carbon dioxide, ammonia and water. This property makes it a leavening agent in making baked products like cakes and biscuits and hence known as baker’s ammonia. Even prior to the discovery of chemical synthesis of baking agents, salt of Hartshorn was used as a baking agent. Ammonium bicarbonate has white colored powered solid in physical appearance and must be stored in a cool dry place as it is thermally unstable. Ammonium bicarbonate dissolves in water to yield a clear colorless solution and the dissolution is endothermic, and it is insoluble in alcohol and acetone. It is commonly used to make other ammonium compounds, for uses such as food processing.

Manufacturing Process

Ammonium bicarbonate was traditionally obtained by the dry distillation of nitrogenous organic matter such as hair, horn, leather, etc. Ammonium bicarbonate is industrially produced by combining carbon dioxide and ammonia. Since ammonium bicarbonate is thermally unstable, the reaction solution is kept cold, which allows the precipitation of the product as white solid. Ammonia gas passed into a strong aqueous solution of the sesquicarbonate (at 2:1:1 mixture of (NH4)HCO3, (NH4)2CO3, and H2O) and converts it into normal ammonium carbonate which can be obtained in the crystalline condition from a solution prepared at about 30°C. This compound on exposure to air gives off ammonia and reverts to ammonium bicarbonate.

Handling and Storage

  • Precautions:
    Do not breathe dust. Wear suitable protective clothing. In case of insufficient ventilation, wear suitable respiratory
    equipment. If you feel unwell, seek medical attention and show the label when possible. Avoid contact with skin
    and eyes.
  • Storage: Keep container tightly closed. Keep container in a cool, well-ventilated area.

Measures in Case of Accidents

  • Inhalation:
    Remove to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. If breath areaing is difficult, give oxygen. Call a physician.
  • Ingestion:
    DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Give large quantities of water. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Call a physician immediately.
  • Skin Contact:
    Immediately flush skin with plenty of soap and water for at least 15 minutes while removing contaminated clothing and shoes. Get medical attention. Wash clothing before reuse. Thoroughly clean shoes before reuse.
  • Eye Contact:
    Immediately flush eyes with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes, lifting lower and upper eyelids occasionally. Get medical attention immediately.