Is ammonium present on the periodic table?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Is ammonium present on the periodic table?” and provide information on what is ammonium, its properties, what are ammonium salts, how to detect ammonium as well as the difference between ammonia and ammonium.

Is ammonium present on the periodic table?

Ammonium is not present on the periodic table. This is because ammonium is not actually an element. Ammonium is a compound which means that when the molecules of ammonium are broken down, the properties of ammonium can gradually be subject to change.

What exactly is ammonium?

Ammonium is an ion that is chemically represented as NH₄⁺. It shares a covalent with hydrogen atoms. The four hydrogen atoms that are bonded to nitrogen have a net charge of 1.

Ammonium is formed when ammonia reacts with a hydrogen atom. Ammonia carries a neutral charge whereas hydrogen carries a positive charge during this reaction.

NH₃ + H⁺ → NH₄⁺

Ammonia is a donor as it has a lone pair of electrons that it is willing to donate. Once this electron pair is donated ammonium is formed.

What are some properties of ammonium?

Ammonium has a white color and it easily dissolves in water. Ammonium ion behaves similarly to alkali metals. It is a weak acid. The molar mass is around 18.039 g/mol.

Where can you find ammonium ions?

Ammonium ions can be formed as a part of animal metabolism. It is usually excreted in water by fish and many other water animals. Ammonium ions can be toxic. As a result, they are converted to urea which is less toxic during the urea cycle.

In birds and snails, ammonium can be converted to uric acid. This forms a solid mass which is then excreted from the body.

Ammonium can help provide nitrogen to many plants. However, since it is toxic, it is not commonly used as a source of nitrogen. It also helps in maintaining acid-base balance in humans.

What are ammonium salts?

Ammonium salts are compounds that come with a formula of (R)4N+A- wherein R refers to any hydroxyl, aryl, or alkyl groups.

These ammonium salts dissolve easily in water. The ammonium salts of nitrate are highly volatile in nature.

Ammonium salts can be added to cleaning materials, diuretics, food additives, surfactants, cleaning agents, and disinfectants. They have anti-microbial properties which make them perfect to be used in cleaning agents.

How can you check for ammonium ions in any substance?

Add alkali hydroxide to the substance and then expose them to heat. If there is a particular smell detected, it means there are ammonium ions present in them. This is because ammonium ions can interact with hydroxide ions to produce ammonia.

What is the difference between ammonia and ammonium?

Ammonia is not ionized and goes by the formula NH₃. Ammonium ion on the other hand goes by the formula NH₄₊.

Ammonia is toxic however, ammonium is not toxic as it does not have an unpaired electron, unlike ammonia.

At a reduced pH, the concentrations of the ammonium ion can be higher. However, at a higher pH, the activity of ammonia is higher.

Ammonia can exist in the form of gas at room temperature whereas ammonium ions can simply exist in the form of free ions or salt elements.

Ammonia is a polar molecule because of the imbalance in charges which makes them soluble in water. Apart from this, ammonia has a typical bad indistinguishable smell which ammonium ions do not have.

Besides, ammonia is toxic but ammonium ions are not toxic. The structure of ammonia is trigonal whereas that of an ammonium ion is tetrahedral.

Ammonium ions do not have a wide range of applications but ammonia does. Ammonia can be used in the form of a refrigerant to clean unhygienic water.

It can also be a component in certain chemicals, plastics, explosives, and paints. They are added to cleaning solutions as well. Cleaning solutions can contain around 5 to 10 percent of ammonia. They can also be used in industries at a concentration higher than 40 percent.

There are toxic effects associated with ammonia exposure. This can include a burning sensation in the mouth and nose when inhaled. 

Sometimes, edema can be observed. Eye contact with ammonia can induce eye irritation.  Burns and blindness can be observed with increased exposure. Taking ammonia orally can result in throat and stomach damage. This is not observed in the case of ammonium ions.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Is ammonium present on the periodic table?” and provided information on what is ammonium, its properties, what are ammonium salts, how to detect ammonium as well as the difference between ammonia and ammonium.


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