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Home Topics Chemicals & Poisons Compendium of Chemical Hazards Sodium and potassium cyanide

Sodium and potassium cyanide

Key Points


  • Non flammable
  • Sodium and potassium cyanide react with acid, acid salts, chlorates and nitrates
  • Emits toxic fumes of hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides when heated to decomposition. Sodium and potassium cyanide liberate fumes of hydrogen cyanide when in contact with acids or carbon dioxide
  • In the event of a fire involving sodium or potassium cyanide, use fine water spray and liquid tight chemical protective clothing with breathing apparatus


  • Sodium and potassium cyanide are highly toxic by ingestion 
  • Ingestion of sodium or potassium cyanide can cause headache, nausea, dizziness, nervousness, confusion and drowsiness. Symptoms may be delayed for 2-4 hours of ingested on a full stomach
  • In cases of severe poisoning heart problems, fitting, fluid accumulation in the lungs and death can occur
  • Irritating to the skin and eyes
  • Skin or eye contact can also cause symptoms similar to those seen following ingestion
  • Cyanide salts are not considered to be cancer-causing chemicals


  • Avoid release into the environment
  • Inform the Environment Agency of substantial releases


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Compendium of Chemical Hazards