We use chemicals to keep our house clean. Two popular chemicals used for this are ammonia and bleach. Though both are effective cleaners, you might notice a warning on their containers telling you not to mix each other.
The common household cleaner
Ammonia is the common ingredient in most household cleaners. A solution of ammonium hydroxide is used to clean various surfaces. This solution is popular because it cleans a surface without leaving any streaks. Some of the surfaces it is used on include stainless steel, glass and porcelain.
What makes it work?
Your ammonia cleaner contains a combination of ammonia and a scouring medium. These cleaners have a volatile alkali that evaporates without leaving any residue after it dries. This is why these cleaners are used to clean glass. There are very few surfaces that can not be cleaned by ammonia.
Your ammonia cleaner contains a combination of ammonia and a scouring medium.
What is ammonia?
Ammonia is available in either gas or liquid form. It is a compound formed by a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen and is easily identifiable by its pungent odour. It is a key constituent of fertilisers and plays an important role in the pharmaceutical industry.
The basics about bleach
Bleach is another common cleansing solution that you find around your household. It is a chemical that is commonly used to whiten fabrics through a process of oxidation. The mixture of bleach is a combination of sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide or a peroxide releasing compound with chemicals called catalysts or activators. The bleaching powder that you commonly used is made of calcium hypochlorite.
What happens when we mix Ammonia and Bleach
Ever wondered why household cleaners always have a warning to ensure that you don’t mix both? Well the chemistry behind both these cleaners ensures that when mixed they can release toxic compounds called chloramines. These compounds include monochloramine (NH2C1), dichloramine (NHC12), and nitrogen trichloride
(NC13). The fumes from these compounds can burn the mucous membranes in your nose. These chloramines smell very much like the odour of Chlorine in a swimming pool.
Another by-product of mixing bleach and ammonia is hydrazine. Hydrazine is an explosive substance that is highly toxic in nature. It is used to prepare polymer foam, in rocket fuels and used to prepare the gases used in the airbags of your automobile.