Urea or carbamide, is an organic compound commonly used as a fertilizer. It has the chemical formula (NH2)2CO. Urea was the first organic chemical produced from inorganic chemicals, a breakthrough in chemistry, which proved organic substances can be produced from inorganic substances, disproving the notion of vitalism.
Thermal decomposition of urea produces ammonium isocyanate, who in turn yields isocyanuric acid.
- NH2CONH2 → NH4NCO → HNCO + NH3
Urea is a white crystalline substance. Its melting point is between 133-135 °C. Urea is soluble in water (107.9 g/100 ml at 20 °C) and when dissolved, it is neutral on the pH scale. Urea is soluble in glycerol (500 g/L) and slightly less soluble in ethanol.
Urea is available as a fertilizer, either pure or mixed with other substances. It can be very cheaply purchased online, often at less than $5/kg.
ScienceCompany sells 500g of lab grade urea at 16.95 $.
- AgNCO + NH4Cl → (NH2)2CO + AgCl
Industrially it is produced by the thermal decomposition of ammonium carbamate.
- COCl2 + 4 NH3 → (NH2)2CO + 2 NH4Cl
Urea is non-toxic, though is may cause irritations to sensitive tissues. It may corrode metallic surfaces, even the more resistant forms of stainless steel.
Urea doesn't require any special storage, and can be safely stored in glass, metal, plastic or ceramic containers.
As urea is a good fertilizer, it can be safely dumped in the soil, although it's recommended to avoid dumping it in water reservoirs to prevent the growth on unwanted algae.