Cyanide - CN−

What is Cyanide?

Cyanides are chemical compounds which are fast acting poisons with a chemical formula CN.

Cyanides consist of one nitrogen atom and a carbon atom connected to each other with a triple bond. It is also known as cyanide anion or nitrile anion, cyanide ions. Certain algae, fungi, and bacteria can produce cyanide. It is also found in vehicle exhaust, spinach, almonds, tapioca, etc. At room temperature, hydrogen cyanide appears as a colourless or pale blue liquid and at a higher temperature, it is a colorless gas and smells like bitter almond.

Some cyanide such as potassium cyanide and sodium cyanide is in white powder form and smell like bitter almonds. Cyanide-containing compounds and cyanide are used in plastics, drug and dye companies, photo development, etc. Cyanide is created by some industrial processes such as wastewater treatment, steel production, etc.

Table of Contents

Properties of Cyanide – CN

CN Cyanide
Molecular Weight/ Molar Mass 26.02 g·mol−1

Cyanide Structure – CN

Cyanide Structure - CN−

Cyanide structure – CN−

CN Uses (Cyanide)

  • It is used in the mining of gold.
  • It is used to stabilize electron ions during electroplating.
  • Cyanide compound such as sodium nitroprusside is used in clinical chemistry.
  • Illegally it is used to capture fish for sea market or aquarium.
  • It is used in the making of jewellery.
  • It is used in the mining of silver.
  • Sodium nitroprusside is used to measure urine ketone bodies.
  • It is used as  pest control in countries like New Zealand.
  • It is used to increase the germination of plants.
  • It is used as a food additive in the food industry.

Frequently Asked Questions


What does cyanide do to the body?

Cyanide prohibits the use of oxygen on the body’s cells. When this happens, the cells dies. Cyanide is more harmful to the heart and brain than to other tissues, since a lot of oxygen is used in the heart and brain.


What is the formula for cyanide ion?

Carbon in cyanide brings four valence electrons, and nitrogen brings five; plus, the extra one from the ion’s charge. So, in total, 4 + 5 + 1 = 10 electrons. We write the ion cyanide formula as CN.


Why is cyanide negatively charged?

In the case of the cyanide ion, the carbon produces a complete negative charge, as well as a lone pair of electrons. The nitrogen atom also has a lone pair but this is not seen to prevent ambiguity. Combining lone pair with negative charge makes the ion’s carbon end to act as a nucleophile.


How many electrons does cyanide have?

The cyanide ion formula is CN. That gives us ten valence electrons in total to work with.

Also Read:

Hydrogen Peroxide Benzoyl Peroxide
Potassium Chloride Hydroquinone

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