Chemistry (including Biochemistry)/bleach and ammonia


Andrew D. Hall wrote at 2006-11-14 20:00:51
Combining ammonia and bleach generates chloramine gas which irritates the lungs.

Please refer to an article on this subject in the New England Journal of Medicine at the following link:

james witte wrote at 2006-12-30 20:52:10
Ammonia, a colorless gas or liquid with a sharp irritating odor, can be found in household cleaners, wax removers, glass and window cleaners, and oven cleaners. In strong concentrations, such as may be found in commercial products, ammonia vapors and liquids can be corrosive causing severe burns and irritation to the skin, eyes, and lungs. Household ammonia contains 5-10% ammonia and is considered to be an irritant rather than a corrosive hazard. Vapors, even in low concentrations, can cause severe eye, lung, and skin irritation. Chronic irritation may occur if ammonia is used over long periods of time.

Do not mix ammonia with chlorine bleach or bleach products! When ammonia and bleach are mixed, a chloramine gas results which can cause coughing, loss of voice, feeling of burning and suffocation, and even death.  

Vic Velcro wrote at 2007-05-12 18:51:13
Combining bleach (sodium hypochlorite) with household ammonia (or any other ammonia) is hazardous. It produces chloramines in vapor form.

Mixing bleach with an acid will release chlorine in vapor form. Chlorine gas was used as a chemical agent during world wars 1 and 2 by military personnel from various nations. Many people were killed.

Mixing bleach with anything is probably going to produce a hazardous substance, either directly or in a subsequent stage of any reaction that might take place.

Combining bleach with WATER enables the production of hydrochloric acid.

Combining bleach with hydrocarbons (oil, fuel, grease) creates explosives. Some of these explosives are touch sensitive.

Bleach is only safe to combine with a very limited number of substances. This is why the general rule is DON'T MIX BLEACH WITH ANYTHING.  

lucas wrote at 2007-07-22 00:06:34
As a chemical weapons specialist for the US Army I feel I am qualified to respond to this question.

First of all, this individual just gave you very dangerous advice.

Household bleach has a chemical formula of NaOCl - that is, one atom each of sodium, oxygen, and chlorine. Its chemical name, for the curious, is sodium hypochlorite. Ammonia has a chemical formula of NH3, that is, one atom of nitrogen and three atoms of hydrogen. When these two compounds are combined, the following reaction takes place:

2(parts)NaOCl + 2NH3 --> 2NaONH3 + Cl2.

Do you see that Cl2 on the right hand side there? This means one part chlorine gas, made up of diatomic (two atom) molecules. It also means that the chlorine gas has been liberated from the bleach, and is quite capable of causing you harm when inhaled!

Another potential reaction, which occurs when a greater amount of bleach is added than ammonia, is this:

3NaOCl + NH3 --> 3NaOH + NCl3

That's sodium hydroxide and nitrogen trichloride. Nitrogen trichloride is a very toxic chemical to humans, and even if you did get close enough to ingest it, it would probably explode in your face first, as it is also a very volatile explosive. There is little necessity in explaining why that is bad.

Still another reaction - in three parts this time - can occur, producing hydrazine (N2H4, a component of rocket fuel) if you have more ammonia than bleach:

NH3 + NaOCl --> NaOH + NH2Cl.

These two products then react with ammonia as follows:

NH3 + NH2Cl + NaOH -->N2H4 + NaCl + H2O.

One last reaction occurs to stabilise the reagents:

2NH2Cl + N2H4 --> 2 NH4Cl + N2.

This last equation is of particular interest because of the amount of heat it produces. The heat is so great that it usually leads to an explosion.

Bob wrote at 2007-12-10 16:24:48
Actually, mixing bleach and ammonia does release chlorine gas.  Check the Wikipedia, or really, any medical or scientific website to tell you just HOW deadly this reaction can be.  Remember your high school chemistry, people!

Paul wrote at 2008-01-07 18:11:34
NOT TRUE.  Bleach and ammonia release chlorine gas.  Try a Google search on Bleach Ammonia and read.

MIke wrote at 2008-04-16 06:55:21
Wow, that answer was horrible.  Mixing the two generates chloramine, a very toxic substance.  Do not do it!

Anne wrote at 2008-07-26 14:56:16
Bleach should NEVER be mixed with Ammonia.  It produces chlorine gas, which will make you ill. Read more about this please, before you believe just one answer.  

John wrote at 2008-08-13 16:19:48
Please do not follow the advice in this post.  It may be deadly if it leads someone to the bright idea that a chemist on the internet said it was okay to mix bleach with ammonia.

drpiper wrote at 2009-02-03 23:59:04
Never mix bleach and ammonia.  You will create chlorine gas and you may die.  Never mix bleach with phospates and use it to clean urine.

Nick wrote at 2009-02-25 00:04:54
DO NOT add bleach to ammonia or ammonia to bleach.

Whoever said it was ok is absolutely wrong.

If the fumes don't kill you the possible explosion probably will.

Red wrote at 2012-11-05 00:13:41
I appreciate everyone's public health warnings. However, is it possible that the only person who knows the difference between chlorine and chloramine is our Lucas, the chem specialist?

Dmadibug wrote at 2013-07-05 19:16:26
I just wanted to add that ammonia includes pet urine too. People may not think about it when cleaning a pets urine pad or a accident and think using bleach is ok. I personally realized that one almost too late, but unfortunately breathed in some of the vapors. So even though the pee may be gross, dont use bleach to clean them.

BigDog wrote at 2014-05-23 23:28:18
Yeah, I think "Labman" needs to change his handle.  That's just crazy dangerous. I have a BS in Biochem, and am a certified Medical Lab Tech; titles don't change chemistry.  Its very simple:  Bleach and Ammonia is how you liberate chlorine gas.

Now, is it possible to liberate chlorine gas by adding an acid? yes, thats one reason why ammonia does what it does.  Ammonia in water (Windex?) is about pH 8 to 10.  Bleach is pH 12+.  mixing the two causes the ammonim ions to act as a acid in equilibrium with the sodium hypochlorite... shifting the reaction and liberating chlorine gas.

Never mix bleavh with acids, ammonia, or well.. any liquid other than water.

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I can answer general chemistry questions and those specific to the paint, plastic, and resins fields I have worked in. If I can`t give an answer I know is correct, I will say so. I will not answer questions that sound too much like you need to read your assignment. I will try to help you it if you have read it and do not understand it.


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