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Ammonium Chloride vs. Sodium Chloride: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 18, 2023
Ammonium chloride (NH₄Cl) is a volatile salt used in fertilizers and medicines, while sodium chloride (NaCl) is a stable, edible salt used in cooking and industry.

Key Differences

Ammonium chloride is composed of ammonia (NH₄) and chlorine (Cl), forming NH₄Cl. Sodium chloride, on the other hand, consists of sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl), resulting in NaCl. While both contain chlorine, their other components significantly affect their properties and uses.
Ammonium chloride appears as white crystals or powder and has a strong ammonia smell. It's volatile, meaning it can easily turn into gas. Sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt, also appears as white crystals but lacks any strong odor and is non-volatile.
Ammonium chloride is used in fertilizers, cough medicine, and as a flux in metalworking. Sodium chloride's primary use is as a seasoning and preservative in food, but it also plays a significant role in de-icing roads and in industrial applications.
Both ammonium chloride and sodium chloride are soluble in water, but their reactions differ. Ammonium chloride can react with strong bases to release ammonia gas, while sodium chloride remains relatively stable.
Ammonium chloride can be irritating to the eyes and respiratory system and should be handled with care. Sodium chloride is generally safe but can cause health issues if consumed in excessive amounts.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Formula



Pungent (ammonia-like)



Primary Use

Fertilizers, Medicine, Metalwork
Cooking, De-icing, Industry

Reaction with Strong Bases

Releases ammonia gas
Remains stable

Ammonium Chloride and Sodium Chloride Definitions

Ammonium Chloride

A laboratory reagent.
Ammonium chloride was used to adjust the pH in a chemical experiment.

Sodium Chloride

A preservative in food industry.
Sodium chloride is used to extend the shelf life of canned goods.

Ammonium Chloride

A component in dry cell batteries.
Ammonium chloride is used in the electrolyte of dry cell batteries.

Sodium Chloride

An agent for de-icing roads.
The city spread sodium chloride on roads to melt the ice.

Ammonium Chloride

A flux in metalworking.
The welder used ammonium chloride as a flux to clean the metal surfaces.

Sodium Chloride

A white, crystalline substance, commonly known as table salt.
She sprinkled sodium chloride over her meal for extra flavor.

Ammonium Chloride

A white crystalline salt used in fertilizers.
The farmer used ammonium chloride as a nitrogen source for his crops.

Sodium Chloride

A component in saline solutions.
Sodium chloride is mixed with water to create saline for medical purposes.

Ammonium Chloride

An expectorant in cough medicine.
Ammonium chloride is often found in cough syrups to ease bronchial discomfort.

Sodium Chloride

An electrolyte in sports drinks.
The sports drink contained sodium chloride to replenish electrolytes.


Are both compounds soluble in water?

Yes, both are water-soluble.

Can ammonium chloride be used in food?

It's not commonly used in food due to its ammonia content.

Is sodium chloride safe for consumption?

Yes, in moderation, as it's essential for human health.

What is ammonium chloride?

A white crystalline chemical compound used in various applications like fertilizers and medicines.

What is sodium chloride?

Commonly known as table salt, it's used in cooking, as a preservative, and in industrial applications.

Is ammonium chloride harmful?

It can be irritating if inhaled or contacted with skin.

Does sodium chloride have any environmental impacts?

Excessive use can affect soil and water salinity.

Is ammonium chloride volatile?

Yes, it can release ammonia gas.

Are there health risks associated with sodium chloride?

Excessive intake can lead to health issues like hypertension.

Where is sodium chloride most commonly found?

In households and kitchens as table salt.

Can sodium chloride be used for cleaning?

Yes, especially as a de-icing agent on roads.

Are both compounds used in medicine?

Ammonium chloride is used in some cough medicines; sodium chloride in saline solutions.

Where does sodium chloride come from?

Mainly from sea water and rock salt deposits.

What is the primary use of ammonium chloride?

It's widely used in agriculture as a nitrogen source in fertilizers.

What industries use ammonium chloride?

Agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and metalworking.

What's the difference in their chemical formulas?

Ammonium chloride is NH₄Cl, sodium chloride is NaCl.

Is ammonium chloride found naturally?

Yes, in volcanic areas and burning coal seams.

Can both compounds be mixed together?

They can, but the resulting mixture's properties depend on the intended use.

Is sodium chloride essential for the human body?

Yes, it's vital for maintaining fluid balance and nerve function.

Can ammonium chloride be used in batteries?

Yes, particularly in dry cell batteries.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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