Ammonium sulphide or ammonium sulfide is a chemical compound that is composed of sulphur and ammonium ions. It is more commonly known as a “stink bomb” because of its explosive properties. The IUPAC name of the compound is ammonium sulfide and the formula of ammonium sulfide is given as (NH4)2S. The ammonium sulfide molar mass can be determined from the ammonium sulfide chemical formula (or ammonium sulphide chemical formula) 68.154 g/mol. Due to the two ammonium ions present in the ammonium sulphide formula, it is also sometimes commonly known as Diammonium sulfide.

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General Properties of Ammonium Sulphide

The ammonium sulfide is commonly known as a “stink bomb” because it is highly flammable and explosive in nature and has a very pungent smell or odour owing to its constituents as can be determined from the formula of ammonium sulphide. At temperatures above -18℃, the ammonium sulfide compound exists in the form of crystals but exists as a liquid at room temperatures. The crystals of ammonium sulfide are generally seen yellow in colour. The structural formula of ammonium sulfide which is given below shows the arrangement of two ammonium ions around a central sulphur atom as can be known from the molecular formula of ammonium sulphide.

Ammonium sulphide is not produced naturally. There are no known natural sources of ammonium sulphide. This can also be because this compound is highly toxic and is dangerous to the environment. Typically ammonium sulphide is formed by the treatment of ammonium hydroxide with excess hydrogen sulfide which can be gauged from the ammonium sulphide formula. This forms ammonium hydrosulfide, NH4HS, as an intermediate product. Further treating the above-obtained ammonium hydrosulfide with the same quantity of ammonia leads to the formation of ammonium sulfide. Due to this sometimes people also search the ammonium sulfide chemical formula as ammonia sulfide formula, which is definitely a wrong name. The ammonium sulphide equation or ammonium sulfide equation for the above reaction can be given as:

HS + excess NH3 → (NH4)2S

The stink bomb that is the ammonium sulphide solution is generally made up of a solution of ammonium sulphide in water and sealed inside a glass ampoule (a small mini-bottle-like container used for secure storing of a liquid). As the ampoule is broken ammonia and hydrogen sulfide gases are released from the solution giving a strong and unpleasant smell.

Ammonium sulfide decomposes at an ambient temperature. It is soluble in water but more soluble in alcohol and highly soluble in liquid ammonia. It is a highly toxic chemical and hence should be handled carefully. It is highly corrosive in nature and as mentioned, dangerous for the environment. It is known to cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous. The pungent odour can make someone feel nauseous. Due to its high flammability, it is to be kept away from fire or other flammable liquids and substances as it can be disastrous.

Other compounds that have similar properties are ammonium polysulphides. For example, Diammonium trisulphide is an ammonium polysulphide compound having two ammonium ions and three sulphide ions as constituents. Hence, the ammonium polysulfide formula will be dependent on the number of sulfide ions present along with the ammonium ions.

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Uses of Ammonium Sulfide

The most common application of ammonium sulphide is in the manufacturing of photographic developers. It is also widely used in the textile industry. It is also used for the application of the patina to bronze which means a thin layer typically of green colour formed on the surface of bronze due to oxidation. It is also used as an additive reagent in cigarettes in small quantities. Furthermore, it is extensively used as a reducing agent, a property that can be understood from the ammonium sulphide formula in specific organic synthesis methodologies.