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Ammonium Carbonate in the Baking Industry

Prior to the mid-19th century, the only leavening system used in baked goods was the old fermentation process. About the same time in England, a revolutionary method of producing ammonium carbonate, by the distillation of deer horns was developed and became commonly known as "Hartshorn". Eventually, this form of ammonium carbonate became more readily known as "Bakers Ammonia", which it is still referred to in today’s baking industry.

"Bakers Ammonia", or ammonium carbonate, is a uniform high purity leavening agent, produced by a chemical reaction of ammonia, carbon dioxide and water. Ammonium carbonate is a product of exceptionally high quality and should not be confused with ammonium bicarbonate, which has a lower ammonia content.

Ammonium carbonate is a white crystalline powder which yields a strong ammoniacal odor. It decomposes into ammonia, carbon dioxide and water at elevated temperatures. This unique property of complete decomposition into gaseous products at temperatures above 59oC is one of the most important features of this product. Decomposition occurs slowly when ammonium carbonate is opened to the atmosphere, but increases significantly when exposed to higher temperatures normally used in the baking process. Ammonium carbonate can be dissolved in water at room temperature, which is a convenient way to add to dough for even distribution.

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