How to Dispose of Ammonia

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Ammonia is an alkaline compound made out of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms in a covalent bond. It is a colorless and has a pungent odor. It plays a vital role in the human metabolic system. When proteins in our food break down, it releases ammonia along with amino acids.

Several organisms also release it in the ecosystem, including single-celled organisms like bacteria. It is also excluded in the air and water, and by several plants as a by-product of their metabolism process.

Common Usage of Ammonia

Most of the ammonia produced in the world are used as the fundamental element for plant fertilizers. No matter what kind of land it is, growing and re-growing food crops can deprive of the soil of its essential nutrients. This often erodes the ground, and the plants grown on them lack nutrition.

In that regard, the ammonia in fertilizers helps replenish the ground and makes farming more productive. It also helps maintain the quality of the plants, enriching it with necessary nutrients like zinc, boron, and selenium.

On the other hand, ammonium hydroxide (an ammonia compound) is the building block of various household cleaning products. It is often used to get rid of dust and grime accumulated in the sink and bathtub. It is very effective at removing those stubborn stains from almost any surface as it is mildly corrosive.

Hazards of Ammonia

Even though it’s such a productive compound, extended exposure to ammonia can have severe repercussions for the human body. Exposure to ammonia can cause skin and eye irritation, agitation in the throat and lungs, making it harder to breathe due to its strong odor.

Moreover, using cleaning products consisting of ammonia in an enclosed area can make you prone to such health hazards. Fortunately, there are certain methods to dispose of ammonia safely. Here are the detailed instructions of those methods.

  • Diluting Ammonia

If you want to dispose of ammonia safely, your primary step should be to minimize its potency. In that case, water is the most effective weapon. Diluting the harmful compound is an easy task if you follow certain guidelines.

Firstly, you need to make sure that you carry out this method in a well-ventilated room. Try not to breathe in the chemical as it vaporizes. It might irritate the throat and lungs, and hinder your respiratory system.

For the next step, you need two separate containers to mix the two different liquids. The plastic containers must be big enough to hold the accumulated mixture of the fluids.

At the same time, always keep in mind that the water and ammonia you should mix with a ratio of 10:1, where the portion of ammonia should be less than 10% of the water.

Don’t forget to measure how many gallons of ammonia you need to dispose of, and decide the measurement of water proportionately. Water won’t have any effect on it if it’s above that criteria.

When you have filled each container with water and ammonia respectively, proceed to pour the chemical into the water container slowly and gradually. Be very gentle when you mix as ammonia can have a vigorous reaction with water if mixed too fast. Maintain steady hands during this process, and try not to spill it on the ground.

Accordingly, once you diluted the ammonia completely, it is suitable for disposal. You can pour the aqua ammonia down the kitchen sink, or flush it down your toilet.

However, beware if you have a septic drainage system, the solution will proceed to mix with the water underground and pollute it. It might be a serious problem if your main source of water is a well.

Consequently, if you are unable to flush it down the drain, you can either find a safer disposal site or just use the next method.

  • Neutralizing Ammonia

Whether you spilled some of the ammonia while carrying out the previous method, or you are looking for a different procedure entirely, neutralizing ammonia is your best bet.

Pour equal portions of cat litter, baking soda, and keep in a bowl or container. Stir it with a plastic spoon until they get mixed uniformly. This substance will act as a drying agent for the ammonia and absorb it completely. Make the right amount of this mixture to make sure it’s enough to soak up all the ammonia.

In case of spilling, pour the drying agent over the spilled chemical residue, and cover it evenly. Continue applying the mixture until all of the ammonia is sponged up and neutralized.

Next, scoop up the soaked mixture with a plastic spatula, and place in a container. It is now safe to be thrown into your trash can, and won’t have any perilous effects.

If you wish to get rid of a container full of ammonia, add the same drying agent to it, and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Once the dry mixture absorbs it all, you can dispose of it in your trash can.

  • Get Rid of the Container

If you want to rid your household from the hazardous chemical for good, you need to dispose of the container it came in. Before you do so, you need to sterilize it as much as you can. Even the smallest amounts of ammonia can have lethal consequences.

First, empty the remaining ammonia in the sink or toilet. Afterward, rinse the container thoroughly under the sink to dilute any lingering ammonia droplets. Wipe it with a clean cloth once done.

If the bottle is labeled recyclable, send it to your nearest recycling center. Otherwise, put it with the rest of your garbage, and it will be taken care of. It is safe to do so now.

Final Words

Ammonia is a highly reactive substance and vaporizes easily. Even the slightest exposure can have agonizing effects on your body. Always make sure to wear thick safety gloves when handling ammonia containers. Keep steady hands when mixing ammonia with water.

Likewise, use safety goggles to protect your eyes using ammonia-based products. You must pick a well-ventilated room, and keep a window open for extra security. Don’t forget to wear breathing masks to ensure you don’t breathe in any hazardous fumes. It might cause you to suffocate and even pass out.

Rinse around your sink with water to neutralize any lingering ammonia residue. Carry out the instructions above precisely and patiently, and make safety your utmost priority!

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