Ammonium chloride or Sal Ammoniac (chemically ammonium chloride (NH4Cl); also zalmiak, sal armagnac) is, in its pure form, a clear white crystalline salt. Historically it was considered one of the four alchemical "spirits". In modern times it found use as an electrolyte for batteries, and as cough medicine. Its expectorant action is caused by irritative action on the bronchial mucosa. This causes the production of excess respiratory tract fluid which presumably is easier to cough up. (There is little evidence that expectorants actually work.) The main commercial use for ammonium chloride is as a fertilizer for use when growing rice. Other uses include a feed supplement for cattle, in hair shampoo, in the glue that bonds plywood, and as an ingredient in nutritive media for yeast. It is also used in cleaning products.
Sal Ammoniac was named after it was observed in the Temple of Zeus-Ammon in Egypt; its name means "salt of Ammon". It was the white crystalline substance that remained on the ceiling and walls after camel dung was burned. Ugh! And I love it, what can that mean??
The modern name "ammonium" comes from Sal Ammoniac.An industrial byproduct, in several countries sal ammoniac is used to spice up liquorice-type dark candies, and as a flavoring for vodkas. It is sold in blocks at hardware stores for use in cleaning the tip of a soldering iron and can also be included in solder as flux.
This is what Seattle travel guru Rick Steves has to say about licorice in Finland:
Turns Your Stomach, Then Fixes It When in Finland, be sure to try the salmiakki! This salty licorice is a favorite of Finns. I couldn’t stand the stuff, but my host family got a huge kick out of my facial expressions each time I tried it! It was explained to me that this salty licorice became popular as a candy during WW II when sugar was unavailable. Salmiakki also has a very good use other than as a sweet: the salmiak salts in it make a good mild antacid. Try popping a small amount into your mouth and letting it dissolve after sampling too much of your other foreign delights! Click here to see an awesome Finnish Tyrkisk Peber tv commercial!
I'm very happy today because some Finnish boaters came into the store yesterday and were telling me that I had the largest and most comprehensive selection of Scandinavian food they had seen! Yea! But more happiness will be mine when they bring me the samples of the new Fazer Salmiakki that is chocolate covered they were telling me about. My eyes glazed over at the thought of it! I will update after I taste it.