The key difference between ammonium chloride and sodium chloride is that upon heating ammonium chloride at high temperatures, it gives white coloured dense fumes, whereas sodium chloride does not give any white coloured fumes upon heating.
Ammonium chloride and sodium chloride are white coloured crystals that are highly hygroscopic. In other words, these are white crystals that look similar and can absorb water upon exposure to moisture in the air.
What is Ammonium Chloride?
Ammonium chloride is an inorganic compound having the chemical formula NH4Cl. It appears as a white crystalline solid compound that is highly soluble in water. Therefore, we can observe that ammonium chloride is a highly hygroscopic material. Due to the ability of the NH4+ cation to remove a hydrogen ion in aqueous solution, the aqueous solutions of ammonium chloride are mildly acidic.
When considering the production of ammonium chloride, the most common route is the Solvay process where sodium carbonate and ammonium chloride are produced through the reaction between carbon dioxide, ammonia gas and sodium chloride in the presence of water. However, commercially, we can produce this compound by combining ammonia with either HCl gas or HCl aqueous solution.
Applications of ammonium chloride include using it as a nitrogen source in fertilizers such as chloroammonium phosphate. Moreover, ammonium chloride is useful as a flux in the preparation of metals. In medicine, ammonium chloride is useful as an expectorant.
What is Sodium Chloride?
Sodium chloride is NaCl that has a molar mass of 58.44 g/mol. At room temperature and pressure, this compound appears as solid, colourless crystals. It is odourless. In its pure form, this compound cannot absorb water vapour. Hence, it is not hygroscopic.
Sodium chloride is also a salt; we call it a salt of sodium. There is one chorine atom per each sodium atoms of the molecule. This salt is responsible for the salinity of seawater. The melting point is 801◦C while the boiling point is 1413◦C. In sodium chloride crystals, each sodium cation is surrounded by six chloride ions and vice versa. Therefore, we call the crystal system a face-centred cubic system.
This compound dissolves in high polar compounds such as water. Here, water molecules surround each cation and anion. Each ion often has six water molecules around them. However, the pH of an aqueous sodium chloride lies around 7 due to the weak basicity of chloride ion. We can say that there is no effect of sodium chloride on the pH of a solution.
What is the Difference Between Ammonium Chloride and Sodium Chloride?
Ammonium chloride and sodium chloride are highly similar in their appearance, but we can easily identify the difference between ammonium chloride and sodium chloride via heating them. The key difference between ammonium chloride and sodium chloride is that upon heating ammonium chloride at high temperatures, it gives white coloured dense fumes, whereas sodium chloride does not give any white coloured fumes upon heating.
The below infographic shows the differences between ammonium chloride and sodium chloride in tabular form.
Summary – Ammonium Chloride vs Sodium Chloride
Ammonium chloride is NH4Cl. Sodium chloride is NaCl. The key difference between ammonium chloride and sodium chloride is that upon heating ammonium chloride at high temperatures, it gives white coloured dense fumes, whereas sodium chloride does not give any white coloured fumes upon heating.
1. “Sodium Chloride – Preparation, Properties, Structure & Uses.” Byjus, Available here.
1. “Ammoniumchlorid Kristalle” By Ichwarsnur – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Halit-Kristalle” By The original uploader was W.J.Pilsak at German Wikipedia. – Transferred from de.Wikipedia to Commons. (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia