How to Make Ammonium Nitrate




About: NurdRage is a dedicate group of science nerds trying to further amateur science with direct how-to instructions in video format. We saw what was already online and we thought "we could do better".....

In this video we make ammonium nitrate from various off-the-shelf chemicals.

Note: This is not cheaper than buying it directly, once again our objective is to explore the chemistry.

Warning: The chemicals are corrosive and ammonia has a horrible smell, work outside or in a fumehood and wear gloves.

First get 138 grams of sodium bisulfate and add just enough water to dissolve it, usually 300mL.

Then get one mole equivalent of a pure nitrate salt. Some common salts include:

Sodium nitrate: 85 grams.
Potassium nitrate: 101 grams.
Calcium nitrate: 118 grams (if using tetrahydrate)

Dissolve the nitrate in a minimum of water, then mix the two solutions together.

Neutralize the mixture with ammonia (using a pH meter to determine the endpoint).

Filter the mixture to get rid of any insoluble materials if needed, then boil until sodium sulfate begins to precipitate. Then cool the mixture to 0 Celsius and filter. Dry the filtrate to obtain ammonium nitrate mixed with some leftover metal sulfates.

For higher purity the solids can be mixed with 500mL of methanol which selectively dissolves ammonium nitrate. Filter again and evaporate the filtrate to obtain pure ammonium nitrate.

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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago

    My object is to make ammonium nitrate so I can make potassium nitrate. And I have 2 questions: 1) the cold packs are redesigned now with calcium =calcium ammonium nitrate. So I assume there's another step to remove the calcium? 2) if using fertilizer, is it better to have a high N or K (of NPK) and what is high for consumers grade fertilizer?


    3 years ago

    if you plan on using potassium plan on using a lot of DI water to get it all in solution. Other than that good job


    3 years ago

    Can you make it without the bisulfate using HNO3?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Since Ammonium Sulfate is a VERY common fertilizer (easier to find than sodium bisulfate, even), wouldn't it be a lot easier to react it with a nitrate and then do the same fractional crystalization to get Ammonium Nitrate?  (actually, if you use calcium nitrate, the calcium sulfate will conveniently precipitate out and make things easy...)

    2 replies

    8 years ago on Introduction

    very nice tutorial . I have some questions:
    How can i test if my ammonium nitrate fertiliser its good enough to make sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate?(it was delivered with no info and in a normal bag without no brand name)
    How can i purify my ammonium nitrate fertiliser without using methanol(rare and expensive in my country)?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Good 'ible.  One minor note:  it isn't be necessary to go all the way up to pH 7.  Ammonium ion is slightly acidic and the endpoint is actually around pH 4.6.  Just watch the pH meter; when the reading jumps up rapidly you're almost there.  Extra ammonia doesn't hurt anything, though; it will evaporate when the mixture is boiled.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Absolutely right,

    saying "go past pH7" is easier to remember since everyone inherently thinks pH 7 is neutral. Since extra ammonia doesn't hurt the process i thought it would be ok to simplify it down that way.

    But you are 100% correct, the actual equivalence point is somewhere below 7.