This is the volatile alkali. It has the same chemical relations as the fixed alkalies, potassa, soda, and lithia; but flies off into the air when exposed, requiring, unless dissolved, extreme cold or very good pressure to condense it. It is intensely pungent to the taste and to the breathing organs, and acts as an irritant poison when taken in large quantities. Two 31 or three teaspoonfuls, at least, of the stronger solution of ammonia will be necessary to cause danger of a fatal result. Aromatic spirit of ammonia might have such an effect, if a tablespoonful or two were swallowed at once. Symptoms of such poisoning are, extreme burning and pain in the stomach, with nausea and vomiting, followed by collapse (deathly prostration), which may end fatally in a few hours. One case has been reported in which this took place in a few minutes; another, after three days. Its being breathed freely hastens the effect.
Treatment of poisoning with ammonia is like that for other alkalies. Give vinegar and water, or lemon-juice, quickly and largely. Afterwards, olive oil; then milk ; or, if no sweet-oil is at hand, milk alone. The vinegar or lemon-juice combines with and neutralizes the alkaline ammonia. Oil makes a soap with it, which is innocent. Milk will then promote the required soothing action, and will also nourish and support the patient.