Sodium cyanide - NaCN

What is Sodium cyanide?

NaCN is a cyanide salt, a sodium salt, and a one-carbon compound with the chemical name Sodium cyanide. It is also called Cyanogran, a Cyanide of sodium or Cyanobrik. It is extremely poisonous and inhibits various metabolic processes. It is widely used as a test reagent for the proper functioning of chemoreceptors and in industrial processes.

Cyanogran is a crystalline solid white in colour which can also be obtained in powder or lump solid form. It contains an equal number of cyanide anions and sodium cations.

Table of Contents

Properties of Sodium Cyanide – NaCN

NaCN Sodium cyanide
Molecular weight/molar mass of NaCN 46.006 g/mol
Density of Sodium cyanide 1.6 g/cm³
Boiling point of Sodium cyanide 1,496 °C
Melting point of Sodium cyanide 563.7 °C

Sodium cyanide structure – NaCN

Sodium cyanide structure

NaCN Uses (Sodium cyanide)

  • Sodium cyanide is used in the extraction of gold.
  • Used in the mining industry.
  • Used as a rodenticide.
  • Used to clean metals.
  • Used in the manufacturing of dyes.
  • Used in the making of electroplating solutions.
  • Used in the production of hydrocyanic acid.
  • Used in agricultural chemicals.
  • Used to prepare nitriles.
  • Used as a chelating agent.

Production of Sodium cyanide

Cyanide of sodium is obtained by reacting hydrogen cyanide (HCN) with sodium hydroxide (NaOH):

HCN + NaOH → NaCN + H2O

In the year 2006, worldwide production of Cyanobrik was estimated to approximately 5,00,000 tons. It was produced by the Castner process which involved the reaction of sodium amide (NaNH2) with carbon at high temperature.

NaNH2 + C → NaCN + H2

Health hazards

Cyanogran is extremely toxic. The safe amount of oral lethal dose in humans is considered to be less than 5 mg/kg for a 70 kg person. This compound is fatal when inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or swallowed. Contact with it can cause burns to the eyes and skin. It is toxic when inhaled, ingested or in contact with vapours, or dusts and may result in death. On reacting with moist air or water it releases corrosive, flammable, toxic gases.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs


What are the uses of sodium cyanide?

In the mining industry, sodium cyanide is primarily used to extract gold and other precious metals. This application takes advantage of the high affinity of gold(I) towards cyanide, which causes gold metal to oxidise and dissolve in the presence of air (oxygen) and water, creating gold cyanide (or gold sodium cyanide) and sodium hydroxide

Is sodium cyanide toxic?

Along with other soluble cyanide salts, sodium cyanide is among the fastest-acting of all known poisons. NaCN is a potent respiratory inhibitor that acts on mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase and thus inhibits the transport of electrons. It results in less oxidative metabolism and reduced use of oxygen.

How is sodium cyanide prepared?

Sodium cyanide is usually prepared by reacting sodium hydroxide with hydrogen cyanide. The resulting double displacement reaction yields water and sodium cyanide as the products.

Learn more about the Structure, physical and chemical properties of NaCN from the experts at BYJU’S.

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