Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsChemistry · 6 months ago

how does "nitrogen" differ from "ammonium nitrate"? which is used more in fertilizer?


this bomb or whatever it was that went off in Lebanon, was it like fertilizer that would spread out on someones lawn or in a field?  or how different?

Update 2:


5 Answers

  • 6 months ago
    Favourite answer

    Nitrogen as a fertilizer can be applied in many different forms including urea, ammonium sulphate, ammonium phosphate or ammonium nitrate.

    It seems that 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate was being stored, and that is what exploded. This form of nitrogen is used a lot as a fertilizer, but it can also be used as an explosive. 

    EDIT: The Federal Building bombing was in Oklahoma City. That bomb used (I believe) diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate.

  • david
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    Nitrogen is an element.  It exists everywhere as a gas on the atmosphere.  It is very inert.  Does not easily react with anything.  It does not help plants grow.  It is not an explosive.

    Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound consisting of nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms which are sharing chemical bonds to hold them in the correct ratio.  It consists of 2 ions.  NH4(+), ammonium ions which can separate fron the compound and help things grow. The other half is the NO2(-), nitrate ions which also separate and help things grow.

    These dissolve in water and are sucked into plants with the water to do their job.  ===  The misunderstanding comes from farmers and producers of fertilizer.  They just refer to compounds that contain these ions as "nitrogen" like nitrogen is the only thing in them. === Without the other elements (H and O) chemically combined the nitrogen would be useless.

    KNO3 also contains nitrogen and can be a fertilizer, but it is more famous as one of the 3 ingredients of gunpowder.  ===  When combined with sulfur and carbon in the right amounts and then lit on fire (while confined in something like a tube) will build up pressure and explode.

  • 6 months ago

    Ammonium nitrate is normally quite stable.  But if a large enough quantity is subject to enough heat, it can decompose explosively (detonate).  A very similar event happened in Texas City in 1947.  A ship with 2300 tons of AN detonated in the port, killing over 500 people.

  • Dr W
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    The investigation is ongoing but it might have been caused by a warehouse full of ammonium nitrate ignited by a warehouse full of fireworks.... strange combination right?...anyway.. 

    nitrogen is the element. N.  nitrogen is an important part of biological systems.  It's found in every amino acid in plants and animals.  It's found in chlorophyll in plants.  Without N, plants can't grow. 

    Commercial farmers in the US use anhydrous ammonia to give their plants than N.  Anhydrous ammonia is NH3 gas compressed and condensed into liquid NH3 and injected into the soil. 

    Some other fertilizers are salts of ammonium hydroxide. Ammonium nitrate is one such salt  It is the combination of NH4+ and NO3-... NH4NO3.  Totally different critter than NH3 gas.  Those are used less often commercially but maybe more often in home gardens and lawns.  


    fyi, Nitrogen bonds are notorious for being high energy.  The bonds in NO3 are very energetic.  And when we react chemicals, we break bonds and make new ones and the difference in bond energy is often released as heat.  So we start burning NH4NO3 and we get massive amounts of energy released in an enclosed space.. and we call that a bomb. 

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  • Bobby
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    Ammonium nitrate is a white soluble salt that is a means of adding Nitrogen to soil which is important for growth. The NH4NO3 solution is sprayed on crops to help them grow. 

    Nitrogen is an inert gas , in fact we breathe many liters every day , so it cannot be added to soil directly . Under some conditions ammonia gas can be added to soil but the nitrate salt is more convenient and safer

    Storing huge quantities of NH4NO3 as we had in Lebanon is a very risky option as it can detonate quite easily when hit. 


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