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The Science Behind: Cyanide

A rapidly killing chemical that exists in all forms cyanide is known to be a very popular yet dangerous chemical. How is cyanide made? Is cyanide deadly? How do we use cyanide for our benefit? I was curious enough to find out…


Cyanide is a compound made of two atoms. Carbon and nitrogen are connected by molecular bonds (C≡N). Cyanide can be both natural and man-made, both hazardous in their own ways. Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and potassium cyanide (KCN) are some of the known examples. The process of manufacturing cyanide is called the Andrussow process. After making hydrogen cyanide, it looks like a pale blue liquid with a bitter almond-like odour.


Cyanide was and still is a very popular chemical for suicides, given the fact that it kills rapidly. As we know, cells perform natural functions. Cyanide cuts the source of the cells’ energy, ATP. If the dose is enough to block a cell's ability to produce ATP completely, a person will surely experience difficulties in muscle contraction and expansions in areas such as the diaphragm and the heart. This means the person won’t be able to breathe and a heart attack or cardiac attack as some say will take place.

What surprised me the most was that it only takes around 2-5 minutes for all of this to happen. However, The person will suffer in every possible way during this time, making it feel like never-ending torture. This process would feel like the most a person has to go through both mentally and physically before they die(not the best way to die, if you ask me).


If you ever seem to be exposed to cyanide, here’s what you are supposed to do-

(Since cyanide is a rapidly killing drug, there’s no assurance that any of these will work.)

Leaving the area: Since cyanide exists in gaseous form, try getting away from the area of exposure to cyanide. It would be more helpful if you go out in the fresh air. If you’re trapped inside, the only thing that could work would be staying put and as close to the ground as possible.

Taking your clothes off and disposing of them: If you think you’ve been exposed to cyanide, take off every piece of clothing you were wearing during exposure since they might have cyanide on them. After doing that, immediately dispose of the clothes into plastic bags and seal them. You must not touch the contaminated areas—wearing gloves or flipping the bag upside down while disposing could help if you don’t know the contaminated areas. DO NOT THROW THE BAGS YOURSELF!!!

Washing yourself: Most people feel a burning sensation due to the chemical. Washing your body with water and soap would help with the burning and get rid of the cyanide. If you feel that your eyes are hurt or your vision is blurry, washing your eyes with cold water will hopefully soothe the discomfort a little bit.


  1. A little cyanide is present in apple and apricot seeds—not enough to harm you but it's there.

  2. Not all forms of cyanide can be dangerous. For example, nitriles (an organic compound containing a cyanide group) doesn't release metabolic poison.

  3. Cyanide exists in all three forms: solid, liquid and gas.

  4. Jewellers use a small amount of cyanide for electroplating. They do this mostly with gold and silver.

There is a lot of information out there about chemicals, especially cyanide. I had so much fun writing this article. I hope you learned something from this one.Until next article.....toodles!!!




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