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Cyanide Formula – Structure, Properties, Uses, Sample Questions

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  • Difficulty Level : Basic
  • Last Updated : 22 Aug, 2022
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Carbon is a chemical element and its chemical symbol is C. Its atomic number is 6 and its electronic configuration is 1s2 2s2 2p2. It is nonmetallic and tetravalent. It is the chemical backbone of all life on Earth. It forms a huge number of compounds with many other elements. It is used as a fuel and also used to make all sorts of materials including alloys, and plastics. The two most common allotropes of carbon are Diamond and Graphite. 

Nitrogen is a chemical element and its chemical symbol is N. Its atomic number is 7 and its electronic configuration is 1s2 2s2 2p3. It is important to the chemical industry. It is found in soils and plants, found in the water we drink, and in the air, we breathe. It is used to make nylon, dyes, fertilizers, nitric acid, and explosives. It is an essential nutrient for the production of amino acids, nucleic acids, proteins, etc.

Cyanide is a chemical compound that contains a C≡N functional group. This group known as the cyano group consists of a Carbon atom triple bonded to a nitrogen atom. It is a naturally occurring chemical found in many plants. It is contained in cigarette smoke and the combustion products of synthetic materials such as plastics. Certain bacteria, fungi, and algae can produce cyanides. The most common cause of cyanide poisoning is smoke inhalation in case of fires. It was discovered in 1782 by Swedish Chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. In this compound, carbon brings four valance electrons and nitrogen brings five valance electrons. And one extra from the ion’s charge. So a total of 10 valence electrons. Finally, we write the ion Cyanide formula as CN.

Structure Of Cyanide

Cyanide consists of a carbon atom triple bonded with a nitrogen atom. The chemical formula of cyanide is CN. In this case, it’s a negative charge so it’s an anion. Let’s count the valance electrons on the periodic table carbon is in group 4 it brings 4 valance electrons and nitrogen is in group 5 so it has 5 valance electrons and this negative means we have extra valence electrons to work with. Let’s add that in there. We have a total of 10 valence electrons to work with. So let’s draw our carbon and nitrogen right here and let’s take and put the electrons around let’s do a bond first so there are two electrons now we have bonded the carbon and nitrogen together we have used to, let’s put them around here 4,6,8,10 and we can check for octets. Nitrogen’s fine it has 8valence electrons but carbon only has 4. So let’s take and moves 4 electrons between these atoms to fulfill the Octet. The structural formula that would look just like this

Structure Of Cyanide

Structure Of Cyanide

Preparation Of Cyanide

  • Cyanide is prepared from Hydrogen Cyanide. Hydrogen Cyanide is a weak acid that dissociates sparingly to produce H and CN.The equation is as follows        

HCN —–> H+ + CN

  • Sodium Cyanide prepared by the molten sodium is allowed to flow through a mass of heated coke while ammonia gas is passed upward                                   

2 NH3 + 2 C + 2 Na —–> 2 NaCN + 3 H2 

  • Ammonia reacts with carbon monoxide  to form Ammonium Cyanide

2 NH3 + CO ——> NH4CN + H2O

  • Potassium Hydroxide reacts with Hydrogen Cyanide to form water and Potassium Cyanide 

KOH +HCN ——->H2O + KCN

  • Hydrochloric acid reacts with potassium cyanide to produce potassium chloride and hydrogen cyanide 

HCl + KCN ——> Kcl + HCN

Physical Properties Of Cyanide 

  • The chemical formula of cyanide is CN
  • Cyanide molecular weight is 26.018 g/mol
  • Cyanide gas is less dense than air
  • Its melting point is 148οC
  • Some simple Cyanides are soluble in water

Chemical Properties Of Cyanide

  • The chemical formula of Cyanide is CN
  • Hydrogen reacts with cyanide to form hydrogen cyanide

H+ + CN ——> HCN

  • The reactions between water, dioxygen, gold, and cyanide to form hydroxide and Dicyano Aurate(I) [Au(CN)2]  

2 H2O + O2 + 4 Au + 8 CN ——>4 OH + 4 [Au(CN)2]

  • The reaction between water, cyanide, and permanganate[ MnO4]to form manganese oxide, hydroxide, and cyanate

 [CNO] H2O + 2 MnO4 + 3 CN——> 2 MnO2 + 2 OH + 3 CNO 

  • The reactions between water, iodine, and cyanide to form hydrogen ion, iodine cation, and cyanate

H2O + I2 + CN —–> 2 H+ + 2 (I-I) + OCN 

Uses Of Cyanide 

  • Cyanide is used to make paper, plastics, and textiles
  • Its salts are commonly used in metal cleaning and electroplating
  • It is used to develop photographs
  • It is used to leach gold from ore 
  • Cyanide gas is used to exterminate pests and vermin in ships and buildings 
  • It is used as a vasodilator in vascular research
  • Its compound such as sodium nitroprusside is used in clinical chemistry.

Health Effects Of Cyanide

  • Cyanide is more harmful to the heart and brain 
  • Breathing cyanide gas causes the most harm
  • It can cause headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and vomiting
  • It prevents the cells of the body from using oxygen
  • Exposure to a large amount may cause loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, and lung injury

FAQs on Cyanide Formula

Question 1: Where is Cyanide found?


Cyanide is a chemical compound. It can be found in nature and in products we commonly eat and use. It is released from natural substances in some foods and certain plants such as lima beans, almonds, and cassava. It is found in some fruits like apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, prunes, and pears.

Question 2: Is cyanide produced in the Human body?


Cyanide is even a byproduct of metabolism in the human body. It is found in the urine. The concentration of cyanide is higher in urine samples than in saliva samples . And cyanide is exhaled in low amounts with every breath.

Question 3: What are the uses for Carbon?


Carbon is a chemical element with the symbol C. It’s the ability to form stable bonds with many elements, including itself. The allotropes of carbon are diamond ,graphite ,graphene and buckminsterfullerene. Diamond is used in jewelry, graphite is used as the lead in pencils. Carbon is used as a fuel. Activated charcoal is used for purification and filtration.

Question 4: What are the examples of compounds containing Cyanide?


Cyanide is a chemically an anion. The compounds containing cyanide anion are Sodium Cyanide, Potassium Cyanide, and Hydrogen Cyanide. Cyanides are found in exhaust of vehicle, in smoke of cigrattes, and in some foods like bamboo shoots, almonds, spinach, lima beans, fruit pits, and tapioca. And some fruits has more cyanide like apples and pears.

Question 5: What are the uses of nitrogen?


Nitrogen is a chemical element with the symbol N. It is an important element in the chemical industry. It is used in the manufacture of ammonia to produce nitric acid and subsequently used as a fertilizer. It is essential to plant growth. In the food industry nitrogen gas is used to displace oxygen in food packing. It is used in the light bulb industry, tire filling systems, the pharmaceuticals industry and also used in stainless steel manufacturing.

Question 6: Can we touch cyanide?


Cyanide is a chemical compound. It is in the liquid form can be absorbed through the skin . It can cause reactions in the skin due to the irritate nature of cyanide to irritate the skin. Cyanide ions interfere with cellular respiration resulting in the body’s tissues being unable to use oxygen.

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