Preparation of Ammonia Gas in Laboratory

Ammonia is a colourless, toxic gas and dissolve very well in water. Ammonia gas can be prepared in the laboratory by different other compounds. In industrial scale, ammonia gas is manufactured by haber method.

ammonia gas molecule

In this tutorial, we will learn followings of ammonia gas.

  1. Characteristics of ammonia gas
  2. Preparation of ammonia gas in the laboratory


Ammonia gas (NH3)

Ammonia has a very important place in chemistry because it is used in many applications in the chemical industry. Ammonia has very different characteristics in behavior such as acting as an acid, base, oxidizing agent, reducing agent and more. In this tutorial, we are going to learn about characteristics and preparation of ammonia gas in laboratories.



Characteristics of ammonia gas



A basic gas

When NH3 gas is sent to the water, aqueous ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH) solution is given. Aqueous ammonium hydroxide is a weak basic solution have pH value just over 7.

Otherwise we can say, pH of ammonium hydroxide is much lower than sodium hydroxide solution because sodium hydroxide is a strong base.


Colourless, pungent smell, toxic

Inhaling ammonia can cause death. Never try to feel the smell of ammonia gas (not only for ammonia, do not smell any chemical compound to identify).

Ammonia gas does not have colour like nitrogen dioxide gas.



Preparation of ammonia gas

Ammonia is manufactured industrially in large scale, but it can be prepared in the laboratory also. Ammonia is toxic gas and should be careful when it is being prepared.



Preparation of ammonia gas in the industry

Ammonia is produced by haber method in the industrial scale. Hydrogen (H2) gas and nitrogen (N2) gas are used as raw materials to produce ammonia in haber method.
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Prepare ammonia in the laboratory

Ammonia can be prepared by following methods in the laboratory.

  1. Add strong base to any ammonium salt (NH4+).
  2. Add water to magnesium nitride (Mg3N2) and heat the solution.
  3. Heat NaNO3, Al and NaOH(aq) mixture

Strong bases and any ammonium salt reaction | NH4+ + NaOH

When a strong base is added to a any ammonium salt and heated the mixture, it will produce ammonia gas, a salt and water as products.


Add strong bases such as NaOH(aq), KOH(aq) to NH4Cl aqueous solution. Ammonia gas is emitted as one product.

Approximating lid of concentrated HCl bottle to the emitting ammonia gas will give NH4Cl white fog. This method can be used to identify ammonia gas.

ammonium chlorode and sodium hydroxide reaction

This is a good method to prepare ammonia gas in the laboratory because both ammonium chloride and sodium hydroxide can be found easily in the laboratory.


Which aqueous ammonium salts give ammonia gas with alkalis?

  • Ammonium chloride
  • Ammonium sulfate
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Ammonium carbonate
  • Ammonium bromide


Prepare ammonia from magnesium nitride

Add water to magnesium nitride (Mg3N2) and heat the solution. It will give ammonia gas. Mg(OH)2 white precipitate is deposited as other product.

magnesium nitride and water reaction

How magnesium nitride is produced or found in the lab?

It can easily produced in the lab if you cannot find it in the laboratory. Take a magnesium metal piece and burn it in the air. As products, magnesium oxide and magnesium nitride are given. You can use this formed product to observe the ammonia production test.



Prepare ammonia from NaNO3, Al and NaOH(aq)

Heat sodium nitrate (NaNO3), Aluminium and aqueous sodium hydroxide ( NaOH(aq)) mixture. Nitrate ion (NO3-) is reduced to NH3 and Al is oxidized to its +3 oxidation state.

sodium nitrate alumium sodium hydroxide reaction

In this reaction, water is also contributed as a reactant.



Preparation of aqueous ammonia

Aqueous ammonia solution exist as ammonium hydroxide solution. Aqueous ammonia solution can be prepared by dissolving ammonia gas in the water. Ammonia dissolve very well in water.





Questions asked by students

Ask your question and find the answer free.

Can I prepare ammonia gas from aqueous ammonium sulfate solution

If you heat ammonium sulfate solution with aqueous NaOH solution, ammonia gas will be released.


Can I produce ammonia gas when an ammonium salt is heated.

Not all time. Some ammonium salts like ammonium carbonate, ammonium sulfate will give ammonia when they are heated.





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