Common uses of ammonium sulfate include fertilizers, circuit boards, herbicides and vaccines. Ammonium sulfate classifies as a compound and has physical and chemical properties similar to salt. This substance has a salty texture and appearance but lacks a distinct taste and smell.
Although useful for many human purposes, ammonium sulfate poses some health risks to humans and animals and requires careful handling. The primary use of ammonium sulfate is in commercial pesticides and fertilizers. This substance dissolves rapidly in water, but not in alcohol and other synthetic mixtures, making it a solid addition for stabilizing fertilizers. Ammonium releases upon exposure to water and can make its way into the air in the form of ammonia gas.
After application to damp soil, ammonium particles escape, causing an increase in the acidity level of surrounding soil. The rising acidity creates a lower pH level in the soil, increasing growth of plants and crops. The introduction of ammonium sulfate to soil also produces nitrogen, which encourages rapid growth of plants.
Ammonium sulfate dissolves less readily than many other natural and synthetic compounds, making it an economical choice for a cheap fertilizer ingredient. This compound also serves as an herbicide by searing and ultimately killing the leaves of plants, making their removal easy. Ammonium sulfate also appears in processed breads and acts as an additive in many foods.