Oxyacids and Ammonia


Oxyacids and ammonia are two very different chemical compounds or substances in comparison to one another. Let us try to understand what a chemical compound is? When several atoms of identical or similar molecules of at least more than one atom combine than they form chemical compounds. These molecules or atoms are held together by bonds called chemical bonds. Moreover, there are several chemical bonds such as covalent bonds, ionic bonds, metallic bonds etc. We can represent a chemical compound or its elements through a chemical formula specifying all atoms. For instance, the chemical formula of ammonia is \[NH_{3}\]. We can even change the composition of a compound by interacting it with a different mixture. This process is called a chemical reaction. Similarly, oxyacid and ammonia have a varying chemical composition as well.  Now let us answer the question of what is an oxyacid?

What is An Oxyacid?

So what is an oxyacid? Oxyacid is a type of chemical compound that contains oxygen. In other words, they are the acids that carry oxygen and also known as ternary acid or oxoacid. To be more specific oxyacid contains oxygen, hydrogen, and one another element—the oxygen atom bonds with hydrogen atom producing anion of acid and H+ (hydrogen) cation. In the previous theory, scientists believed that all acids have oxygen in them, but later it was found that not all atoms have oxygen in them, for instance, hydrochloric acid. So the acids divide into two factions, hydro acids and oxoacids. These acids have an oxygen atom bound to a hydrogen atom, and these are non-metallic binary hydrides. We know for a fact that the acidic strength increases with the increase in oxygen atoms. In this case, the count of O atoms and electronegativity determines the acidity.  The salts of oxyacids are comparatively more stable, such as oxyanions.

Some examples of these acids are hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, chloric acid, oxyacids of nitrogen etc. There are a variety of oxyacids of nitrogen such as nitric acid, nitroxyl, Nitroxylic acid, nitrous acid etc. now let us study and breakdown the structure of nitric acid. The structure of nitric acid is as shown in the figure below. It contains O (oxygen), N (Nitrogen) and H (hydrogen) atoms bound together. This acid has very high acidic properties and great oxidizing property.

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Properties of Oxyacid

There are several properties of oxyacids that everyone should be familiar with. To start with every oxyacid contains an oxygen-hydrogen structure (Y-O-H). Here Y is the central atom that connects all the other groups of atoms. We can dissociate the molecules of such structures in two ways.  

Y-O-H  Y++ OH-[3]    

Y-O-H  ⇄ (Y-O)-+ H+

If the electronegativity of the central atom Y is quite strong so that it attracts the electrons of oxygen. Then oxygen and hydrogen bond is weak, easily ionizing as shown in the reactions above. Hydrogen gives an electron to become an ion, and thus Y-O-H becomes an acid. Furthermore, the number of O atoms and electronegativity of the central atom directly affects the acidic properties. For instance, among phosphoric acid, sulfuric acid, and perchloric acid. Based on the electronegativity of phosphorus, sulfur, and chlorine, the most potent acid is perchloric acid than sulfuric acid and lastly phosphoric acid.


Ammonia is one of the commonly known nitrogenous wastes. It is a compound containing hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The chemical formula of ammonia is given as \[NH_{3}\]. Also, ammonia is one of the most stable and straightforward hydrides or pnictogen hydrides. It is a gas with a pungent smell and colourless appearance. At average room temperature and pressure, the density of this gas is around half of the air. Our atmosphere contains only a tiny proportion of this gas, and the gases in a volcanic eruption also contain ammonia. They are also produced in the process of decomposition (of plants and animals). Its production, storage, and use in the concentrated form require high-level caution as it can be hazardous for health. The product that is used in households is mixed with water to reduce the concentration levels of the compound. The structure of ammonia (\[NH_{3}\])  is shown in the figure below.

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Properties of Ammonia

Ammonia is lighter than O (oxygen) with a pungent smell. The presence of hydrogen bonds between the atoms in this gas helps it liquefy easily. Its chemical reaction assists in the composition of various compounds of nitrogen. As you can see in the structure above the atoms of ammonia take a tetrahedron shape in its structure with one pair of unshared electrons. Its liquid form has a freezing point of -77.7 degrees Celsius and a boiling point of  -33.3 degrees celsius. Some chemical reactions of ammonia make its salts such as acetic acid and sodium bicarbonate. It is also available in both solid as well as liquid form. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the uses of ammonia?

Ammonia has alkaline as well as corrosion properties, aside from making tons of chemical compounds by going through reactions it has several other uses as well. Most of the ammonia that we produce from industries goes into fertilizers and agricultural needs. It is also used in refrigerator gas, explosives, dyes, purification of water etc. We use different concentrations of ammonia (diluting it or increasing its strength) in several fields such as household cleaning solutions. This compound is also known for its self ionizing properties.

2. What is the strongest and weakest oxyacid?

The strength of the oxyacid depends upon the electronegativity of the central atom. So the strongest oxyacid is perchloric acid, and the weakest one is Hypochlorous acid. These acids only differ by the total number of oxygen atoms bound in the structure. So if one acid has a higher number of oxygen atoms, then it is stronger than the acid with a lower number of oxygen atoms.