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How to Test for Ammonia Gas Leaks (The Right Way)
Monday, December 21, 2020

Ammonia is one of the most widely produced chemicals in the US. Farmers use it as an agricultural fertilizer, it helps to purify water supplies, it is found in refrigeration systems, and it is also a common ingredient in household cleaning products.

Although it has many everyday uses, it can also be extremely harmful to humans and animals. If a person is exposed to ammonia it can have serious consequences for their health.

Ammonia is a corrosive chemical. When it is inhaled or comes into contact with skin, it can produce a painful burning sensation. If the exposure is severe enough, it can lead to lung damage, blindness, or even death.

What is Ammonia?

Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen. It is a colorless gas that can be most easily recognized by its sharp and overpowering odor. Although it is found in the human body, and it also occurs in nature, it only becomes harmful to humans in its concentrated form.

Because ammonia is so potentially harmful to humans and animals, any individuals or companies that work with this corrosive substance need to be aware of the proper ways to detect if they may have an ammonia leak, and what to do in the event that this is the case.

How to Test For Ammonia Gas Leaks

There are four main methods you can use to detect an ammonia gas leak. It should be noted that each is varying in accuracy and simplicity.

Litmus Paper Method

The first method involves using litmus paper, also known as phenolphthalein test paper. Once you have obtained your litmus paper, the process is easy. Simply take your litmus paper and move it around the area you suspect you might have a leak.

Watch the paper as you do so. If the paper does not change color, this means no ammonia has leaked. If the paper turns a bright pink color at any point, this means ammonia is present and you have located your leak.

Sulfur Stick Method

This method is similar to the above, except a sulfur stick is used instead of litmus paper. Take a sulfur stick, light it, and move it around the area in which you think ammonia may have leaked.

Again, keep an eye on the stick. If a white-colored smoke begins to emit from the sulfur stick, it means that ammonia is present.

Ammonia Detection Cloth

This method involves more specialized items but is more accurate at pinpointing the exact site of an ammonia leak than the first two. An ammonia detection cloth contains the chemical Bromothymol Blue, which will turn blue if it comes into contact with Ammonia.

This method is good if you are having trouble locating the exact location of a leak, or the leak has occurred in an airtight container.

Installing an Ammonia Sensor

Due to its harmful nature, many companies that work with ammonia gas employ the use of ammonia sensors. This method is the best for early ammonia detection and is extremely reliable.

Ammonia sensors can also be used as part of a wider gas leak detector system, which can simultaneously detect a wide range of gases, for greater peace of mind for those working with different types of chemicals.

Keep Yourself and Your Employees Safe

Ammonia and many other chemicals have essential uses in a wide range of industries. However, they should always be used with caution.

If you're looking for ways to keep your employees safe and ensure a potentially harmful gas leak doesn't go unnoticed, contact us today to see what solutions we have that might be right for you and your business.

From our U.S. headquarters in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, we design, manufacture, and distribute analytical instruments based on electrochemical and optical sensors. We specialize in the areas of toxic gas detection and water quality measurements, continuing to lead the way in development of reliable monitoring systems. Our capabilities in the area of sensor design and manufacture allow us to offer the kind of application support needed for the most demanding applications. In addition, local product support is available through our network of over 50 representatives throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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