The key difference between ammonium carbonate and ammonium bicarbonate is that ammonium carbonate is strongly basic, whereas ammonium bicarbonate is weakly basic.
Ammonium carbonate and ammonium bicarbonate are two salt compounds of ammonium having carbonate anions along with ammonium cations.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Ammonium Carbonate
3. What is Ammonium Bicarbonate
4. Ammonium Carbonate vs Ammonium Bicarbonate in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Ammonium Carbonate vs Ammonium Bicarbonate
What is Ammonium Carbonate?
Ammonium carbonate is a salt compound having the chemical formula (NH4)2CO3. This compound can readily degrade into ammonia and carbon dioxide in the gas phase upon heating, and it can be used as a leavening agent as well as a smelling salt. This compound is also known as Baker’s ammonia to modern leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder. It can also be found as an ingredient in the sal-volatile and salt of hartshorn. It also produces a pungent smell upon baking.
The molar mass of ammonium carbonate is 96.09 g/mol. It appears as a white powder, and the density is 1.50 g/cm3. The melting point of this compound is 58 degrees Celsius, and it decomposes upon further heating. Being slightly soluble in water, it is an irritant.
When considering the production of ammonium carbonate, it can be produced by combining carbon dioxide and aqueous ammonia. Besides, it can slowly decompose at standard conditions (temperature and pressure); therefore, an initial pure ammonium carbonate sample can suddenly become a mixture along with various byproducts. Spontaneously, this compound can decompose into ammonium bicarbonate and ammonia.
The major use of ammonium carbonate is as a leavening agent. This compound is used as a leavening agent in traditional food recipes coming mainly from Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Ammonium carbonate is the precursor to baking powder. It is also useful as an acidity regulator, and its E number is E503. Replacing baking powder with ammonium carbonate can cause a change in both texture and taste.
What is Ammonium Bicarbonate?
Ammonium bicarbonate is a salt having the chemical formula (NH4)HCO3. There are many different names for this compound that reflect its historical uses and applications; however, it is the salt of ammonium ion. This compound is a colorless solid substance that can readily degrade into carbon dioxide, water, and ammonia.
The molar mass of this compound is 79.056 g/mol. The density of this compound is 1.586 g/cm3. The melting point of ammonium bicarbonate is 41.9 degrees Celsius, and further heating can decompose the compound. It is slightly soluble in water and insoluble in methanol. The main hazard of ammonium bicarbonate is that it can decompose to release ammonia.
Besides, ammonium bicarbonate can be produced by the combination of carbon dioxide and ammonia. This compound is thermally unstable, so this production reaction needs to be kept cold, which can allow the precipitation of the product in the solid phase.
There are many different uses of ammonium bicarbonate, such as using it as a leavening agent in the food industry for flat baked goods, including cookies, crackers, etc. This compound was commonly used in homes before the use of baking powder. Moreover, this is a common and inexpensive fertilizer in China, which is now phased out due to the extensive use of urea by means of quality and stability. Besides, we can use ammonium bicarbonate as a buffering solution for chemical purification processes, e.g., HPLC.
What is the Difference Between Ammonium Carbonate and Ammonium Bicarbonate?
The basicity of ammonium carbonate and ammonium bicarbonate is determined by the amount of carbonate ions that are released into the solution. The key difference between ammonium carbonate and ammonium bicarbonate is that ammonium carbonate is strongly basic, whereas ammonium bicarbonate is weakly basic. This is because the ammonium carbonate compound can release more carbonate ions to the solution compared to the amount of carbonate ions released to the solution by ammonium bicarbonate.
The below infographic presents the differences between ammonium carbonate and ammonium bicarbonate in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Ammonium Carbonate vs Ammonium Bicarbonate
Ammonium carbonate is a salt compound having the chemical formula (NH4)2CO3, while ammonium bicarbonate is a salt having the chemical formula (NH4)HCO3. The key difference between ammonium carbonate and ammonium bicarbonate is that ammonium carbonate is strongly basic, whereas ammonium bicarbonate is weakly basic.
1. “Ammonium bicarbonate – NH4HCO3 structure, molecular mass, properties, uses.” BYJUS. Retrieved November 27, 2022.