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What Is Urea?

The body gets rid of most of its urea through urine.
Frogs produce urea.
Crystalline fertilizer is a type of urea fertilizer.
Urea, or carbamide, can be used as a fertilizer or pesticide on crops.
A synthetic form of urea can be found in toilet bowl cleaners.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Heleigh Bostwick
  • Revised By: Bott
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2014
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Urea, also called carbamide, is an organic chemical compound, and is essentially the waste produced by the body after metabolizing protein. Naturally, the compound is produced when the liver breaks down protein or amino acids, and ammonia; the kidneys then transfer the urea from the blood to the urine. Extra nitrogen is expelled from the body through urea, and because it is extremely soluble, it is a very efficient process. The average person excretes about 30 grams of urea a day, mostly through urine, but a small amount is also secreted in perspiration. Synthetic versions of the chemical compound can be created in liquid or solid form, and is often an ingredient found in fertilizers, animal feed, and diuretics, just to name a few.

Discovery

Naturally, the chemical compound is not only produced by humans but also by many other mammals, as well as amphibians and some fish. Discovered in 1773 by the French chemist Hillaire Rouelle, urea became the first organic compound to be synthetically formulated. German chemist Friedrich Wöhler, one of the pioneers of organic chemistry, invented the process to create the synthetic version of the compound in 1828, just 55 years after its discovery.

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Production

The synthetic version of the compound is created from ammonia and carbon dioxide and can be produced as a liquid or a solid. In 1870, the process of producing the compound synthetically by dehydrating ammonium carbamate under conditions of high heat and pressure was invented, and this process is still used today. There are many common uses of the synthetic compound, and therefore its production is high; in fact, approximately one million pounds of urea is manufactured in the United States alone each year.

Common Uses

Most of the manufactured compound is used in fertilizers; when nitrogen is added to urea, the compound becomes water soluble, making it a highly desired ingredient for lawn fertilizer. The synthetic version is also used commercially and industrially to produce some types of plastics, animal feed, glues, toilet bowl cleaners, dish washing machine detergents, hair coloring products, pesticides, and fungicides. Medicinally, it is used in barbiturates, dermatological products that re-hydrate the skin, and diuretics

Physicians can use urea levels to detect diseases and disorders that affect the kidneys, such as acute kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and the urine urea nitrogen (UUN) tests, which measure urea nitrogen levels in the blood and urine, are often used to assess how well a patient's kidneys are functioning. Increased or decreased levels of the compound, however, do not always indicate kidney problems, but instead may reflect dehydration or increased protein intake.

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Discuss this Article

anon346886
Post 61

@ post 60: Urea as used in DEF is used to make diesel vehicles compliant with new emission laws. DEF is mixed with the exhaust via a dosing valve in the exhaust pipe before a particulate filter and catalyst. The mixture of exhaust and DEF being introduced through a catalyst takes the exhaust and chemically changes it. The bi product of the reaction is nitrogen and water vapor instead of diesel exhaust gases. This makes it clean for the environment.

anon344967
Post 60

What is the purpose of using urea as a diesel exhaust fluid additive?

anon296292
Post 59

@post 22: The use of wild Krill oil has many beneficial properties. Unlike ordinary fish oil, it will certainly increase urea levels. I got a blood test result last night and my doctor confirmed this.

anon285620
Post 58

An 82 year old female has congestive heart failure. The blood work results have urea at 22.2 mmol/L. There is no previous history of kidney problems. How imminent is kidney failure?

anon271555
Post 54

This is 35 percent of a two part solution (the other 65 percent being H2O) which is effectively concentrated urine, which we as truck drivers have to pour into a new, additional tank @ $2.699/gallon just to make the EPA happy about stagnating the entire economy.

anon237847
Post 51

Urea synthesis undermined the argument that organic nature was unique and inviolable. Once you could make urea without a kidney by heating up ammonium cyanate, you could go on to artificially synthesize anything organic from inorganic sources. The experimental lab triumphed over organic nature and physicalism refuted vitalism.

This was a victory for industrial society as a world above the given world of nature now in its late stage of self-destruction, taking the order of organic nature with it, otherwise known as the environmental crisis. Yes, this all began with a little synthetic pee when Wohler said: "urea, I found it!"

anon207294
Post 50

I understand that urea is used in cigarettes. So all you teenagers who smoke, start saving for college by collecting dog pee and sell it to the tobacco companies.

anon170103
Post 49

To #16 & 10: Urea is a Nitrogenous fertilizer. It provides 45%N by weight. Urea is rapidly absorbed via leaf surfaces and can act as a foliar fertilizer. It is rapidly taken up by roots as well. However, urea, unlike ammonium or nitrate ions, cannot directly enter the nitrogen metabolic pathway, requiring an intermediate step. Nonetheless, its action is rapid.

By the way, there are no sodium fertilizers as such. Sodium is generally toxic to plant growth [most mesophytes] and only a few species, e.g. coconut, respond positively to sodium. Most try to exclude sodium at their roots or develop complex tolerance or even excretion mechanisms.

In rare instances, Israeli greenhouses promote controlled physiological drought through salt in fertigation in certain tomato varieties when close to ripening to increase dry mass and soluble solid content. That is not the same as using sodium as fertilizer.

Various salt-tolerant tomato varieties behave differently when faced with high sodium through their growth period. Some exclude the salt, others do not but try to tolerate high shoot and leaf Na concentrations.

anon149656
Post 47

can urea be discharged from your sinuses after having the flu and a sinus and ear infection in the form of yellow-orange thin fluid? Like a bright yellow, runny nosebleed, but not blood and thin like water?

anon138382
Post 43

Is urea (mixed with lotion or other cosmetics) halal?

can Muslims use it?

anon135290
Post 42

I need a drug to reduce urea level. my test result is

2.1mg/dl. I am 76 years old.

anon133212
Post 41

ok. I have a friend who told me that he has a set of "double six' dominoes that are made of urea. Is that possible? (Basically he and I are having a problem believing that a set of dominoes can be made out of, well, urine from the human body) thanks. randallt77

anon126663
Post 40

if urea is increased in the kidney, how do we control the urea level? please reply.

anon111487
Post 39

I'm doing an MSDS project on urea. can i get more info?

anon85746
Post 38

What kind of effect would you get when you treat human fecal material with urea? Would your end result be something like fertilizer? Could it be used to fertilize grain, vegetables for human consumption?

anon81011
Post 37

Could some one who reads my post pass on an answer to a simple question I have?

I just started working out, and began consuming regularly fish oil pills and protein supplements and began working out regularly, and after a work out I noticed a couple yellow skin patches on my left upper pecs? Is this unusual? Many thanks.

anon77257
Post 36

so in other words, urea can come from urine.

anon66593
Post 35

i live in a tropical country, and i've been using urea lotion because the dermatologist advised it for dry skin, and my arm becomes lighter or whiter everytime i use it. is it okay?

anon55556
Post 33

I am doing a science fair project on how solutions affect the freezing points and boiling points of water. I have read that urea can decrease and increase those points? Is that correct? If so where can urea be purchased?

anon55213
Post 32

Can a urine urea level of 2544 be linked to hyperthyroidism in any way? I am doing a case study as an assignment and am in dire need of help.

anon50215
Post 31

can you please explain the management a doctor should take if the blood urea level and creatinine level increases.

anon48090
Post 29

I had blood test and urea was found 7.5. Is that too high and how can i bring it down? Many thanks.

anon46102
Post 28

i had wondered what happens if you use the urea and burn it as a agent with others to light charcoal briquettes. these little packages were appearing as a plastic wrapping a inner ingredient to light a fire? are the coals resined and does the compound provide a desensitized effect to anyone?

anon43381
Post 27

what is the impact of urea used for synthetic milk or for simple milk on human body?

my second question is, can we take self urine?i heard that it is beneficial for health.

thank you.

anon42879
Post 26

some urea is reabsorbed in the blood by diffusion. urea is a small, uncharged molecule, so it can pass through membranes by lipid difusion and there isn't much the kidney can do about it. since it is passive process, urea diffuses down its concentration gradient until the concentration of urea in the filtrate and blood equal. so in each pass through the kidney half the urea is removed from the blood and half remains in the blood.

sswan
Post 25

dose urea contain sodium and if so how much percentage-wise. thanks.

anon41551
Post 23

what is use of urea to our body?

tduval
Post 22

Can regular consumption of fish increase Urea level ?

anon40680
Post 20

To the swimming instructor: No, urea would not be the cause of your skin problems. Urea has been found to cure many skin ailments, not produce them. However, being in water with such a high pH every day for three hours is probably not exactly healthy.

To the person whose partner had incredible skin, your partner can apply fresh urine to their skin and produce the same effect. It may sound disturbing, however this is the secret of many models and actors, and has been used for thousands of years.

anon40461
Post 19

My partner had incredible skin when she used a product in South Africa that contained urea. We can't find it in the U.S. How does it help in skin care and are there skin care products here that contain it?

smansirova
Post 18

I've got absolutely the same question as No7 anon21053. Please advise. Thank you in advance.

anon39854
Post 17

My husband has alzheimer's and just had a blood test done and it came out with the urea in 13. What does this mean? Thank you. Thank you. The article was quite instructive but did not answer my question.

anon36680
Post 16

which is urea?

a. sodium fertilizer

b. phosphate fertilizer

c. nitrogen fertilizer

d. potassium fertilizer

anon34589
Post 14

As a swimming instructor who works in warm water 35 degrees for 3 hour blocks, is it possible for my skin to absorb urea if it is built up in a pool that has not had its water changed in 5 years, yet diluted with fresh water & usually over chlorinated & has Ph levels of 8.8? I ask this as after 4 years on the job it would seem that I am getting a excess of keritan & blocked hair follicles.

handover659
Post 13

Can urine be used as an immediate remedy for wounds especially punctured wounds caused by sea urchins? Because here, in my country, it is noticeable that people use their own urine for treating the punctured wounds caused by sea urchins. Is it really advisable to do that? or it is just a mere superstition? I wonder why...thanks.

anon32335
Post 11

what is urea in simple language i need to know

anon27149
Post 10

how does urea help fertilizers?

anon25851
Post 9

I have seen the ingredient "urea" listed in some diuretic type body wraps which claim to cleanse your body of impurities and flush out excess fluids which then encourage inches lost and weight reduction. My question is how does this ingredient work in the capacity? Is there any way I could get this to use for that purpose? How exactly would i go about using this ingredient to achieve the inch loss effect? Where could i get access to the ingredient? Thank you.

anon21053
Post 7

I have seen urea (diazolidinyl urea) listed as an ingredient in many skin care lotions. I have also read that this form of urea is a formaldehyde releaser. My 2 questions are: 1. Since formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, are the skin care lotions containing diazolidinyl urea potentially harmful? 2. Is diazolidinyl urea derived from animal protein waste or is it synthetic? I am a layperson when it comes to chemistry, so if you could, please "dumb down" the response, I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

anon13087
Post 6

I have three questions about the synthesis of urea

1) what is the catalyst used in the process?

2) what is the typical life time deactivation?

3) what is the main cause of the deactivation? thank you

anon12738
Post 5

I need to know the source of the raw material and details of how this is initially treated, two major uses of the substance and two physical or chemical properties involved for each use.

anon11549
Post 4

i want to know the method how i can extract urea from urine then how much water concentration added to urea to get 100c.c amonium carbonate plz help me.

anon4906
Post 3

I was curious how I could separate urea from butanol and benzene, i need to do this for a science project.

makub
Post 2

l ran a test urea & creatinine test for urea the result is 2.2mmol/l while creatinine is 65mmol/l l will like to know if my kidneys re functioning well b/c my left kidney is ectopic.

anon3033
Post 1

can u please explain about urea degrading bacterium?

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