Ammonium acetate

Ammonium acetate is a chemical compound with the formula CH3COONH4. It is a white solid, which can be derived from the reaction of ammonia and acetic acid. It is available commercially, and depending on grade, can be rather inexpensive.

Uses and distinctive properties

As the salt of a weak acid and a weak base, ammonium acetate has a number of distinctive properties.

  • CH3COONH4 is occasionally employed as a biodegradable de-icing agent.
  • It is often used with acetic acid to create a buffer solution, one that can be thermally decomposed to non-ionic products
  • Ammonium acetate is useful in the Knoevenagel condensation in organic synthesis.
  • It is relatively unusual example of a salt that melts at low temperatures.
  • Can be used with distilled water to make a protein precipitating reagent.
  • Is often used as an aqueous buffer for ESI mass spectrometry of proteins and other molecules.


CH3COONH4 is hygroscopic. It decomposes easily at elevated temperatures into acetamide.
In this reaction, a salt is converted to two molecular species, which is a relatively uncommon conversion at mild temperatures.


  • G. Jones, Organic Reactions, 1967, volume 15, 204ff (the Knoevenagel Reaction)

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