Sodium Cyanide

What Is Sodium Cyanide?

The chemical name of cyanide is Sodium Cyanide, and it is a highly toxic chemical. Sodium cyanide is known by many different names such as Cyanobrik, Cyanide of sodium, cyanide salt, or Cyanogen. It is basically a sodium salt as well as a one-carbon compound. It is an inorganic compound, as it is a typical chemical compound that does not have an established carbon and hydrogen bond. This sodium salt is white in colour and is soluble in water. It is one of the highly toxic salts as it has a high affinity (highly reactive) for metals. Sodium cyanide is also a moderately strong base, and when it is treated with an acid (such as sulfuric acid), it forms a highly toxic gas known as hydrogen cyanide.

Sodium Cyanide Formula

What is NaCN? Well,  the formula of sodium cyanide is NaCN, where Na is sodium, and CN is cyanide.

Chemical Properties of Sodium Cyanide

When one treats sodium hydroxide with hydrogen cyanide, he gets sodium cyanide. All around the world, in the year 2006, almost 5 lakh tons of NaCN was produced. Therefore, we can assume the salt has vast application. After hydrolysis NaCN forms HCN (hydrogen cyanide acid) because this salt is derived from a very week acid. The HCN that is formed after hydrolysis smells like bitter almonds.  Also, when NaCN is detoxified with Hydrogen Peroxide sodium cyanate and water is produced.

Sodium Cyanide Uses

Gold Mining- In the mining industry sodium cyanide has exorbitant uses. The main use of the cyanide is reflected in the process of extraction of gold as well as other precious metals from mines. Gold is highly reactive to cyanide, therefore, sodium cyanide is explicitly used in gold mining. When gold reacts with sodium cyanide in the presence of oxygen and water it produces sodium gold cyanide and sodium hydroxide.

Chemical Feedstock- Sodium cyanide helps in producing a number of commercially significant chemical compounds such as cyanogen chloride, many types of nitriles and also cyanuric chloride. Cyanide is a very strong nucleophile that donates a pair of electrons to form a chemical bond in relation to a reaction. In organic synthesis cyanide (nucleophile) helps in preparing nitriles. Nitriles are present in many chemicals, and it has vast usage in the pharmaceutical industry.

Other Uses- Sodium cyanide is a highly toxic chemical, it is therefore used for any illegal purposes such as killing by poisoning. Due to its poisonous nature, many use the chemical for killing insects and rodents. In many industries, it is used for cleaning metals. In the dye industry, the chemical is used to produce dyes. In many other sectors, the chemical is used to manufacture the electroplating solution. It is also used as an agricultural chemical and farmers use it as a pesticide to kill pests that damage the crop. This said the chemical can also be used for producing the hydrocyanic acid.

Other Properties of Sodium Cyanide

Sodium cyanide or NaCN is a toxic chemical. Its molecular weight is 46.006 g/mol. The density of this highly reactive chemical is 1.880 gram per cubic decimeter. The boiling point of the chemical is 21.15 degrees Celsius and its melting point is -9.3 degrees Celsius.

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Sodium Cyanide and the Health Hazards

Sodium cyanide or cyanogran is an extremely toxic chemical. For a human with an average weight of 70 kg, a dose less than 5 mg/kg is considered to be a safe amount of oral lethal dose. Now, any particular quantity above this limit can prove to be highly dangerous. Many a time, a portion of the chemical is found to be in the fruits or vegetables due to sprinkling of pesticides on them. Therefore such fruits and vegetables prove to be fatal. Government has therefore restricted the use of sodium cyanide as a pesticide for farms and agricultural lands. If a person inhales this chemical, absorbs through the skin or swallows it, it can be fatal and result in the death of a person. Direct contact with the chemical causes eyes and skin to burn. When the chemical reacts with humid air or water it releases flammable, corrosive, toxic gases.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Diverse Uses of Sodium Cyanide?

Sodium cyanide is a toxic chemical; it is therefore used for any illegal purposes such as killing by poisoning. Due to its poisonous nature, many use the chemical for killing insects and rodents. In many industries, it is used for cleaning metals. In the dye industry, the chemical is used to produce dyes. In many other sectors, the chemical is used to manufacture the electroplating solution. It is also used as an agricultural chemical and farmers use it as a pesticide to kill pests that damage the crop. In the mining industry, sodium cyanide has exorbitant uses. The chemical is used for the extraction of gold and other precious metals from mines. Gold is highly reactive to cyanide, therefore, sodium cyanide is explicitly used in gold mining. When gold reacts with sodium cyanide in the presence of oxygen and water it produces sodium gold cyanide and sodium hydroxide.

2. Is Sodium Cyanide Suitable for Human Consumption?

No, the chemical is highly toxic, it is therefore not suitable for human consumption. For a human with an average weight of 70 kg, a dose less than 5 mg/kg is considered to be a safe amount of oral lethal dose. If a person inhales this chemical, absorbs through the skin or swallows it, it can be fatal and result in the death of a person. Direct contact with the chemical causes eyes and skin to burn. Earlier the chemical was used in farmlands for killing pets and rodents. But due to the health hazards, the chemical can do the government has strictly stopped its use in the agricultural sector.