Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. A stable binary hydride, and the simplest pnictogen hydride, ammonia is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent smell. It is a common nitrogenous waste, particularly among aquatic organisms, and it contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or indirectly, is also a building block for the synthesis of many pharmaceutical products and is used in many commercial cleaning products. It is mainly collected by downward displacement of both air and water. Ammonia is named for the Ammonians, worshipers of the Egyptian god Amun, who used ammonium chloride in their rituals.
Although common in nature—both terrestrially and in the outer planets of the Solar System—and in wide use, ammonia is both caustic and hazardous in its concentrated form. It is classified as an extremely hazardous substance in the United States, and is subject to strict reporting requirements by facilities which produce, store, or use it in significant quantities.
The global industrial production of ammonia in 2014 was 176 million tonnes, a 16% increase over the 2006 global industrial production of 152 million tonnes. Industrial ammonia is sold either as ammonia liquor (usually 28% ammonia in water) or as pressurized or refrigerated anhydrous liquid ammonia transported in tank cars or cylinders.
NH3 boils at −33.34 °C (−28.012 °F) at a pressure of one atmosphere, so the liquid must be stored under pressure or at low temperature. Household ammonia or ammonium hydroxide is a solution of NH3 in water. The concentration of such solutions is measured in units of the Baumé scale (density), with 26 degrees Baumé (about 30% (by weight) ammonia at 15.5 °C or 59.9 °F) being the typical high-concentration commercial product.