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A common name for ammonium carbonate, which is a combined salt of ammonium carbamate and ammonium bicarbonate. Ammonium carbonate is a white powder that smells strongly of ammonia. It slowly decomposes in air to form ammonia and carbon dioxide. Ammonia carbonate is used in smelling salts, baking powder, fire extinguishers, casein glue, ceramics, and textile dyeing. It is also used as an aqueous neutralization/alkalization agent for paper (Book and Paper catalog). Ammonium carbonate is commonly called hartshorn because it was historically prepared by the destructive distillation of the antlers from harts (red deer).

Synonyms and Related Terms

ammonium carbonate; hartshorn salt

Other Properties

Soluble in water. Partially soluble in ethanol.

Composition (NH4)HCO3-(NH4)CO2NH2
CAS 506-87-6
Boiling Point 60

Hazards and Safety


Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • R. Mayer, The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques, Viking Press, New York, 1981
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 57
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 534