Ammonium Nitrate vs Ammonium Sulfate

The following article is part of a conference on the effects of Ammonium Nitrates and Sulfates. The topic is somewhat technical, I must recognize, however, having been called to offer my experience in the agricultural field, I think it is important to bring to the attention, in this case of the farmers, these subjects.

It’s Our Responsibility

Each chemical compound that we use, as fertilizer – as well as pesticides of course – has an impact on the environment and human health. Each of these substances must be known, used with extreme caution and according to technical indications. When we cultivate, we have a great responsibility and we cannot make excuses for our work.

Ammonium Nitrate vs Ammonium Sulfate

Although ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate look like the same substance, it is particularly important to distinguish the differences between the two; a mix up of the two could have devastating consequences.

Both substances are presented as dry white powders that can easily become confused.

Ammonium Nitrate

Ammonium nitrate is the chemical compound of nitric acid and ammonia. When you combine the two substances an acid-based reaction is generated creating the solution ammonium nitrate. It is important that the mixture is created correctly by industry professionals. Professional production involves the mixing of anhydrous ammonia gas and highly concentrated nitric acid. When mixed, a violent reaction is caused that can be temperamental and incredibly exothermic. Once the professionals are in safe possession of the flammable liquid, the water content is slowly evaporated; this leaves a thick white heavy substance. The blended combination is then refined through rotation tumbling leaving fine white pellets.

Ammonium Sulfate

Ammonium sulfate is an inorganic composite of nitrogen and sulfur. Interestingly, ammonium sulfate can be found in its natural state around volcanic ground and slag heaps. Commercial production involves mixing ammonia with sulphuric acid. This chemical reaction causes the two compounds to form large crystals that are easily dissolved in water.

The use of both compounds is very similar. Ammonium sulfate is used as a synthetic stimulant for alkaline soils. The Sulfur in the compound helps decrease the PH balance of the soil while increasing the nitrogen content. Ammonium sulfate can be used as a liquid spray for crop spraying or even as a food additive. Ammonium nitrate can also be used as a good plant fertilizer; however, it is far better suited to controlling acidic soil. The nitrate compound is also used in the production of cold packs; when the substance is added to water it creates an endothermic chemical reaction. The surrounding heat is absorbed into the mixture, turning the product extremely cold. The greatest difference between the two chemical compounds is quite terrifying. Ammonium nitrate can be used as an explosive; when the granules are mixed with a fuel like diesel, an explosive mixture is created.


1. Ammonium nitrate is the chemical compound of nitric acid and ammonia.
2. Ammonium sulfate is an inorganic composite of nitrogen and Sulfur.
3. Both compounds make good plant fertilizers; ammonium nitrate for acidic soil and ammonium sulfate for alkaline soil,
4. Making ammonium nitrate is an extremely dangerous process and must only be performed by industrial professionals.
5. Ammonium sulfate is a natural occurring substance that is commonly recreated in an industrial process.
6. Ammonium nitrate can be used to create an explosive substance when mixed with alcohol.
7. Ammonium sulfate is a safe compound that can even be used as a food additive.

Jeff Lowe (8)

Our Guest Star! Jeff has worked in the agricultural industries his entire life with over 40 years of field and greenhouse knowledge and experience. He specializes in seed and knows open field farming, greenhouse tech, soil erosion, chem applications, maintenance and cultural practices, harvesting, post-harvest handling, shipping, and much more. An agroexpert with passion for farming and Rock’n’Roll!! You can reach Jeff @