Is NH3 Polar or Non-Polar? (Ammonia)

Yes, NH3 (Ammonia) is indeed a polar molecule.

Summary: The N is the negative end, the middle of the H’s represents the positive end, and the dipoles cancel out. By looking at the molecules’ Lewis Dot diagram (three H’s branching out from a centralized N), the central N is bonded to three H atoms, leaving a singular pair of electrons near the N atom.

The following article will explain more about ammonia and its polar characteristics.

Is NH3 Polar or Non-Polar? (Explained)

Ammonia Facts

Ammonia occurs naturally in the environment through the air, soil, water, plants, animals, and humans when hydroclauric acid and enzymes, known as proteases, transform proteins into amino acids and ammonia, then convert the ammonia produced into urine to be released as waste.

It is a building-block chemical compound of one nitrogen (N) atom and three hydrogen (H3) atoms.

Ammonia has a molecular mass of 17.031 g/mol, maintains a density of 0.73 kg/cubic meter, has a boiling point of -28.01 degrees Fahrenheit, and a melting point of -107.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is a stable binary hydride and is considered the simplest of the pnictogen hydrides.

At room temperature, Ammonia is a colorless gas with a sometimes irritating, distinctive, pungent, almost suffocating scent.

In its purest form, it is known as anhydrous ammonia and is hygroscopic (readily absorbs moisture from the air).

Ammonia has alkaline properties (pH between 11-13) and is corrosive.

Ammonia, as a gas, is easily compressed and forms into a clear liquid under pressure and dissolves into water, in which it becomes ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH), a caustic solution with a weak base.

Ammonia is not considered to contain highly flammable properties; however, containers of ammonia may explode if exposed to high heat.

Ammonia is normally shipped as a liquid and roughly 80% of ammonia products are used in agriculture as a fertilizer.

It is also used in household cleaning products like tub, sink, toilet, countertop, and tile surface cleaner, glass cleaner, vegetable oils, cooking grease, and wine stain remover.

Ammonia is used in industrial and manufacturing equipment such as refrigerant gas and air-conditioning equipment, to purify water supplies as a building block in the manufacturing of products like plastics, explosives, fabrics, pesticides, and dyes, and is also used in waste and wastewater treatment, cold storage, and rubber.

In the food, beverage, pulp, and paper industries, ammonia is used as a neutralizer and a source of nitrogen and is even used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.

Polar vs Non-Polar

Polar molecules arise during the electronegativity (tendency of an atom in a covalent bond to attract the bonding electrons when forming a chemical bond) of two bonded atoms.

Nonpolar molecules arise from equally shared electrons between atoms of diatomic (consisting of two atoms) molecules cancelling each other out.

The best way to think about molecular polarity is by thinking of a magnet.

Magnets work by having both a positive and negative pole (same with batteries and the Earth).

When things are different at each end, they are polar, and if they don’t, they are non-polar.

There are five easy steps to finding out whether something is polar or not:

  • drawing the Lewis Dot structure,
  • figuring out the geometry using the VSEPR (valence shell electron pair repulsion) theory,
  • visualizing and physically drawing out the geometry,
  • finding the net dipole moment (no calculations needed if visualization is the preferred method), and
  • if the dipole moment is zero, it is non-polar, everything else, would fall under the polar category.

The polarity of a molecule dictates whether an electron cloud is equally distributed across the atoms within the molecule, or whether an electronegative atom is affecting the electron density.

The distribution of the electrons will affect the behavior and reactivity of a molecule.

Polarity is important because, through the analysis of the polarity of a molecule, we can tell whether something is hydrophilic (water-loving) or hydrophobic (water-fearing).

Molecules with high polarity are hydrophilic, and therefore they mix well with other polar compounds such as water (H2O).

Molecules that are non-polar or have very low polarity, tend to be hydrophobic and mix well with other non-polar compounds such as oil.

Polarity is also important because of its effect on the strength of intermolecular forces.

Polar molecules can bond with each other by dipole-to-dipole interactions, which are generally considered stronger than their non-polar counterparts.

Therefore, if molecules have similar sizes, but one is polar and the other is non-polar, the polar molecule will ultimately have a higher boiling and melting point than compared to a non-polar molecule.

Polarity matters because it is a vital tool in how we come to understand and interact with the world around us.

It’s important to know the polarity of a molecular structure, such as Ammonia, to be able to identify and understand what all it is able to do, how it can evolve, and how to safely handle and transport these molecules, as we further advance our understanding of the elements in the world.

You might also learn from:

is nh3 polar