Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound that consists of nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen. At room temperature it is a white crystal-like substance. Commercial production consists of reacting ammonia with nitric acid which produces a solution of ammonium nitrate. It has many important applications.
Uses of ammonium nitrate
- Ammonium nitrate is used in the high explosive ANFO (ammonium nitrate/fuel oil). This is one of the most popular explosives for a variety of applications such as; coal mining, quarrying, and in construction. It is popular because it is a cheap and highly stable explosive. ANFO makes up about 80% of all explosives used in the United States each year. Unfortunately ammonium nitrate is also used to create homemade explosives, often used by terrorists, called a fertilizer bomb.
- Ammonium nitrate is also one of the most commonly used high nitrogen fertilizers. It is widely used for this purpose in agriculture around the world.
- Another important use of this chemical compound is in instant cold packs. These contain two packs, one with water and the other with ammonium nitrate, and when broken these mix to create an endothermic reaction (absorbs heat from the surroundings to become cool). These packs are commonly used to reduce swelling for sports injuries or other first aid situations where ice is not available.