The production of ammonium nitrate entails the acid-base reaction of ammonia with nitric acid. Ammonia is used in its anhydrous form (i.e., gas form) and the nitric acid is concentrated. Ammonium nitrate is an important fertilizer with the NPK rating 34-0-0 (34% nitrogen). It is less concentrated than urea (46-0-0), giving ammonium nitrate a slight transportation disadvantage. Ammonium nitrate's advantage over urea is that it is more stable and does not rapidly lose nitrogen to the atmosphere. Ammonium nitrate is not, on its own, an explosive, but it readily forms explosive mixtures with varying properties when combined with primary explosives such as azides or with fuels such as aluminum powder or fuel oil.
Explosives, Propellants, Detonators - ATF Regulated Explosive Materials
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