|ECHA InfoCard||Lua error in Module:Wikidata at line 879: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value). Lua error in Module:Wikidata at line 879: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).|
|Molar mass||65.12 g/mol|
|Solubility in other solvents||71.6 g/100 ml (25°C)|
|Std enthalpy of
|S-phrases||, , , |
|Except where noted otherwise, data are given for|
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox disclaimer and references
Please Take Over This Page and Apply to be Editor-In-Chief for this topic: There can be one or more than one Editor-In-Chief. You may also apply to be an Associate Editor-In-Chief of one of the subtopics below. Please mail us  to indicate your interest in serving either as an Editor-In-Chief of the entire topic or as an Associate Editor-In-Chief for a subtopic. Please be sure to attach your CV and or biographical sketch.
Potassium cyanide is an inorganic compound with the formula KCN. This colorless crystalline compound, similar in appearance to sugar, is highly soluble in water. The vast majority of KCN is used in gold mining followed by use in organic synthesis, and electroplating. Smaller applications include jewelry for chemical gilding and buffing.
Highly toxic, KCN is odorless but due to hydrolysis, the moist solid emits small amounts of hydrogen cyanide, which smells like bitter almonds (not everyone can smell it—the ability thereof is due to a genetic trait). It is also used by entomologists as a killing agent in collecting jars, as most insects succumb within seconds, minimizing damage of even the most fragile types.
KCN is produced by treating hydrogen cyanide with potassium hydroxide. Approximately 50,000 tons are produced yearly (the production of sodium cyanide is 10x that amount). It is detoxified most efficiently with hydrogen peroxide:
- KCN + H2O2 → KOCN + H2O
- 4 Au + 8 KCN + O2 + 2 H2O → [Au(CN)2]- + 4 OH-
Very few methods exist for this extraction process.
Cyanide is a potent inhibitor of cellular respiration, acting on mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase and hence blocking oxidative phosphorylation. This prevents the body from oxidising food to produce useful energy. Lactic acidosis then occurs as a consequence of anaerobic metabolism. Initially, acute cyanide poisoning causes a red or ruddy complexion in the victim because the tissues are not able to use the oxygen in the blood. The effects of potassium cyanide are virtually identical to sodium cyanide. The person may die within two hours if not treated medically. During this period, convulsions may occur. Death occurs mainly by cardiac arrest.
A number of prominent Nazis, including Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, committed suicide using lethal pills which contained potassium cyanide. The substance was also used in the 1978 mass murder/suicide of over 900 people at Jonestown, Guyana.
- Institut national de recherche et de sécurité (1997). "Cyanure de sodium. Cyanure de potassium". Fiche toxicologique n° 111, Paris:INRS, 6pp. (PDF file, in French)
- The Landlady by Roald Dahl
- Bernard Martel. Chemical Risk Analysis: A Practical Handbook. Kogan, 2004, page 361. ISBN 1903996651.
- Andreas Rubo, Raf Kellens, Jay Reddy, Norbert Steier, Wolfgang Hasenpusch "Alkali Metal Cyanides" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2006 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH, Weinheim, Germany.ISBN: 10.1002/14356007.i01 i01
- Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) 304300
- "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees: Police Continue Search for Child Pornographer; Hermann Goering's Suicide Solved?; Atlanta Bride-to-be Still Missing; Massachusetts Money Find a Hoax?" (Transcript). CNN.com. 29 April 2005. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
- http://www.opb.org/radio/archives/2007/04/there_was_no_ch_1.php Text and first-hand account audio recording #4 indicate it was cyanide and bitter, respectively.
- International Chemical Safety Card 0671
- Hydrogen cyanide and cyanides (CICAD 61)
- National Pollutant Inventory - Cyanide compounds fact sheet
- NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
- European Chemicals Bureau
- CSST (Canada)
- NIST Standard Reference Database