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AMMON; AMON; AMUN; AMEN "Hidden."
Coined 1782 by Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman for gas obtained from sal ammoniac, salt deposits containing ammonium chloride found near temple of Jupiter Ammon (from Egyptian God Amun) in Libya, from Gk. ammoniakon "belonging to Ammon." The shrine was already ancient in Augustus' day, and the salts were prepared "from the sands where the camels waited while their masters prayed for good omens" [Shipley]. There also was a gum form of sal ammoniac, from a wild plant that grew near the shrine, and across North Africa and Asia. A less likely theory traces the name to Gk. Armeniakon "Armenian," since the substance also was found in Armenia. Also known as Spirit of Hartshorn and Volatile or Animal Alkali.
English: Chloride of Ammonia
Ammonium Chloratum, Ammonium Chloridum, Ammonium Muriate, Sal Ammonia, Salmiac.
Solution Drug strength 1/10
Preserve in a well - closed container.
Minerals; Inorganic; Column Five
Nenning in Germany. Allen's Encyclop. Mat. Med. Vol. I, 1, 286.
Description of the substance
A white, crystalline granular powder odourless, taste, saline, and cooling; somewhat hygroscopic. Soluble in 2.6 parts of water, in 1.4 parts of boiling water and in about 100 parts of alcohol. It contains not less than 99.5 per cent of NH3Cl3 when dried over silica gel for four hours.
Sublimed ammonium chloride is in white masses of fibro - crystalline texture; from its watery solutions it can be made to crystallize in cubes or octohedrons, the crystals being small and disposed in fern - like arrangement. The salt has a sharp saline taste, and is without odor; it is soluble in less than three parts of cold, and in one of boiling water. By its solution in water the temperature of the latter is considerably reduced. Heated on platinum foil it volatilizes in dense white fumes which remain for some time suspended in the air and upon cooling condense in small needle - like crystals.
Sal ammoniac (fig 1) is certainly an oddball mineral. It is composed of ammonium, NH4, and this alone is odd enough. Sal ammoniac is one of the most common and most well known of the ammonium-bearing minerals. These are some other ammonium bearing-minerals:
Boussingaultite (Hydrated Ammonium Magnesium Sulfate)
Cryptohalite (Ammonium Silicon Fluoride)
Guanine (Carbohydrate Ammonium Nitrogen Oxide)
Struvite (Hydrated Ammonium Magnesium Phosphate)
Tschermigite (Hydrated Ammonium Aluminum Sulfate)
Sal ammoniac forms on volcanic rocks near fume releasing vents. There is no liquid phase as the mineral crystallizes from these fumes in a process called sublimation. The crystallization occurs as the gases are escaping and crystals tend to be short-lived. Sal ammoniac is very soluble in water and crystals will be removed during the first rain of their existence, so to speak, if they are not removed by collectors first.
Other possible natural occurrences exist from underground burning coal seams. Alexander the Great is said to have found sal ammoniac crystals in a cave in a region that is now Tadzhikistan. The region was plagued by underground burning coal seams.
Sal ammoniac can be produced artificially and has its uses. When ammonia fumes are blown across hydrochloric acid; sal ammoniac fumes are produced. The technique is sometimes used to produce sal ammoniac coatings on dark objects that are about to be photographed. This will often enhance a difficult to photograph object by adding detail to the subject.
Natural crystals of sal ammoniac have an unreal or unnatural character to them. They are so small, delicate, intricate and at times quite beautiful that they just do not seem to be like other minerals. But it is sal ammoniac's natural methods of origin that lend themselves to produce these one-of-a-kind specimens.
Color is colorless, white or off-white almost yellow.
Luster is vitreous.
Transparency: Crystals are transparent to translucent.
Crystal System: Isometric; possibly of the gyroidal class 4 3 2.
Crystal Habits include cubes, octahedrons and dodecahedrons. Complicated arborescent, snowflake-like and dendritic specimens are available. Crusts and coatings are more common.
Cleavage is poor in one direction.
Fracture is conchoidal to earthy.
Hardness is 1.5 - 2
Specific Gravity is 1.5 (very light).
Streak is white.
Associated Minerals include sodium alum, sulfur and other fumarole minerals.
Notable Occurrences include Tadzhikistan; Mt. Vesuvius, Italy and Paricutin Volcano, Michoacan, Mexico.
Best Field Indicators are crystal habit, associations, origin of formation, softness and density.