In spite of its chemical structure, ammonia is not considered dangerous inside the household as long as you handle it safely and you dispose of it the right way. However, when you use ammonia incorrectly, you expose yourself to certain risks. And most mistakes are done when people dispose of ammonia.
Keep reading to understand how is the best way to dispose of ammonia but also important tips regarding how you should use this chemical to stay safe!
What is Ammonia and what is it used for
This chemical is made of Hydrogen and Nitrogen and it has the formula NH3. Ammonia comes in the form of gas and it lacks color but it comes with a strong smell in its pure nature.
Ammonia is used in a variety of domains from agriculture to the industry of cleaning products, dyes, water supplies purification, textiles, explosives and other products you might use on a daily basis. When it comes to cleaning products, ammonia is one of the most common ingredients and therefore, it is present in most households. Most cleaning products use ammonium hydroxide which is an ammonia compound that is highly efficient in cleaning stains of almost any surface. This compound is only mildly corrosive and not as dangerous as more concentrated ammonia.
This chemical can also be an important plant fertilizer. Ammonia helps maintaining the soil’s nutrients so that you can use it over and over again for growing your favorite plants. It is also used to help plants maintain the right balance of nutrients such as selenium, zinc and boron.
It is recommended to wear gloves when using ammonia or when you dispose of this chemical because it is dangerous when it gets in contact with the skin or the eyes.
Methods to dispose of ammonia safely
Here are three methods that you can use to dispose of ammonia in a safe manner. Make sure you keep the chemical away from your skin and avoid any direct contact with it. Apply one of the following methods when you dispose of any type of ammonia or any product that contains ammonia, even if you think it only contains this chemical in small quantities. Put your safety first and wear gloves as well as a mask when you dispose of this chemical.
Dilute the ammonia With Water
When you dilute the ammonia with water, you will need to use a generous quantity of water. The best and most affordable way to dilute ammonia with water is by using tap water. There are several ways that you can go with when you dilute ammonia with water but the general rule is to make sure that you always have more water than ammonia.
You can slowly pour your ammonia into the sink while the tap water is turned on. Pour your ammonia slowly so that the tap water you mix with it is always in a bigger quantity.
Another way to dispose of ammonia by diluting it is to flush it down the toilet. To do that mix some ammonia into the toilet water before flushing. Depending on the quantity of ammonia that you have, you might need to repeat this process. Always add less ammonia to the toilet water than water. For diluting large quantities of ammonia, using the sink might still be the best option.
Regardless of the way you choose to dilute the ammonia, make sure you don’t inhale as you pour it and it doesn’t get in contact with your skin. You can even open a window or turn on a fan as you pour the ammonia so there is good air circulation in your space.
It is also important to rinse the sink properly and even the toilet container after you dispose of the ammonia. By doing that you make sure that you eliminate any ammonia residue so you can use other chemicals safely on those surfaces in the future.
This method is not recommended if your home has a septic system because such a system will dispose wastewater in the ground. This can facilitate the ammonia to get in the groundwater. If you have such a system, try one of the next methods to dispose of ammonia.
Neutralize the ammonia
Another common method to dispose of ammonia is neutralizing it. To neutralize this chemical you will need cat litter, baking soda, and dry sand as well as a container. Mix equal parts of these three ingredients and use it to either clean any spilled ammonia or to dispose it.
If you want to discard ammonia, simply mix it with the baking soda, cat litter and dry sand and it will be neutralized. This is a very efficient solution when you want to dispose large quantities of ammonia at once.
Make sure to add enough of this mixture to the ammonia until you have no liquid and the entire ammonia is dried out. When your entire quantity of ammonia has been neutralized with the mixture, you can scoop it out and throw it away as you normally would since it is not dangerous in this state.
Always wear a mask when you use this method so you don’t inhale any particles and cover your hands with gloves to avoid any skin contact. Another important detail to consider is that you have to dispose neutralized ammonia immediately and not let it sit in the house. You can use the trash can to end this method successfully.
How to dispose of the ammonia container
This method is more a way to get rid of the container you used to store the ammonia in since you can’t get rid of a container while it still has this chemical in it, even if it is in a small quantity. So, before you eliminate the ammonia container, make sure you disposed of the entire quantity of ammonia.
To make sure there is no ammonia left in the container, you will have to rinse it diligently. Only use water to rinse the container as the water will also help diluting any residue of ammonia that will be in the bottle. Once you rinsed the container, you can throw the water down the drain or in your toilet as both methods are considered safe.
Check to see if the container can be recycled and if you find a sign on it that indicates that, it is safe to recycle it once you cleaned the ammonia off correctly, if the container is not recyclable simply throw it away in the trash can as you would do with other containers.
It is essential to not let an empty ammonia container around the house without cleaning it properly. If you have pets or children, they could get exposed to ammonia residue and suffer mild to severe symptoms. So, get rid of the container as soon as you eliminated all the ammonia or at least make sure to clean it properly to reduce all the potential risks to such exposure.
What not to do with ammonia
Ammonia is still a dangerous chemical if it is not handled properly. Here are a few things that you should not do when you use or dispose of ammonia!
Don’t inhale ammonia
Ammonia is both corrosive and irritating. If you inhale it, it can cause mild to severe irritation of your nose and throat as well as a burning sensation in the nose and your respiratory tract. Major symptoms of inhaling ammonia are trouble breathing or respiratory failure which can be fatal. It can cause both bronchiolar as well as alveolar edema and it can damage the airways to a point of no recovery.
Inhaled in low quantities, ammonia can cause coughing, trouble breathing and a feeling of irritation of the respiratory airways. Despite the fact that ammonia has a strong smell which is an important warning to not inhale it, human nose can get used to this odor and eventually ignore it.
It is important to note that children and pets are more in danger if exposed to this chemical so make sure you store it in a safe place. Also, dispose of your ammonia when no kids or pets are in the same space with you.
Don’t ingest ammonia
Ingesting ammonia is equally dangerous. This chemical can cause mouth wounds, corrosion inside the mouth and throat as well as tongue wounds. Ammonia will also irritate the stomach and airways as it is ingested. However, ammonia can’t lead to systemic poisoning. If ammonia is ingested, immediate medical care will be needed.
Don’t get ammonia in contact with your skin
If your eyes or your skin get in contact with ammonia, you will experience a mild or high level of irritation as well as a burning effect. The symptoms and effects of ammonia exposure will vary according to the quantity of ammonia involved in the incident.
The most common skin contact with ammonia comes from the usage of cleaning products that contain this chemical as well as different dyes. This can cause skin burns and wounds as well as eye irritation, blindness or permanent damage of the eye. Keep in mind that the symptoms of getting ammonia in your eyes or exposing your eyes to large quantities of ammonia might not appear for a week after the incident.
These risks are present for all forms of ammonia contact, being it gas ammonia or liquid ammonia as well as products containing high concentrations of ammonia.
Don’t mix ammonia with bleach or other chemicals
Ammonia doesn’t mix well with bleach and as a general rule, it is important not to mix this chemical with any other chemicals at home. Particularly ammonia and bleach, when they are mixed together, they generate a gas that is dangerous.
The gas obtained by ammonia mixed with bleach can harm your respiratory system, eyes, skin and you should never use it in any form. Also, make sure to not dispose of ammonia and bleach together as they can get mixed and become a danger not only for people but also for the environment.
Similarly, don’t mix ammonia with any other cleaners. Dispose of each cleaner separately and by following all the safety norms. Clean all the containers as soon as you disposed of the chemicals inside of them so you can be sure there are no residues accessible inside your house. You can follow the same methods when you dispose of the container of different chemicals as you followed when you got rid of ammonia container. Clean the surface you got in contact with during such a process too.
How to treat ammonia exposure
If you or someone you know is a victim of ammonia poisoning immediate medical attention is required. Such an incident can be considered an emergency and it should be addressed as such.
While ammonia poisoning can’t be cured with any antidote, the symptoms of such an incident can be kept under control. The first thing you can do is rinse and clean the exposed area with plenty of water and make sure all the ammonia is eliminated from the surface of contact.
Ingested ammonia can be kept under control with milk and water but even if you drank such a mix, make sure you get checked by a doctor to keep all the potential long term symptoms under control. Other treatments of ammonia poisoning can include humidified oxygen, airway management and bronchodilators. If ingested or inhaled in small quantities though, ammonia will not cause permanent damage to your health.
Regardless of the method you choose when you dispose of ammonia, make sure to protect your skin, nose and eyes. Also, clean not only the container you stored the ammonia in diligently but also rinse the sink and all the other containers involved in the disposal process.
If you ingested, inhaled or got your eyes and skin exposed to ammonia, and you observe symptoms, make sure you seek medical attention right away. Left untreated, the effects of ammonia on your body can lead to more severe symptoms and even permanent health damage.