Sodium cyanide is a highly toxic inorganic compound that has various applications in different industries. It is a white salt that is soluble in water and has a high affinity for metals. The chemical formula of sodium cyanide is NaCN, where Na represents sodium, and CN represents cyanide.
One of the most significant uses of sodium cyanide is in the gold mining industry. Sodium cyanide helps extract gold and other precious metals from mines. When mixed with oxygen and water, it produces sodium gold cyanide and sodium hydroxide, which are essential for gold extraction.
Aside from gold mining, sodium cyanide is also used as a chemical feedstock to produce different nitriles and cyanogen chloride. It is a strong nucleophile that helps prepare nitriles, which have various applications in the pharmaceutical industry.
However, sodium cyanide is one of the world's most toxic substances. A lethal dose for an average-weighted human (70 kg) is less than 5 mg/kg, making it extremely dangerous if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. It can cause severe burns on contact with the skin and eyes and release flammable and toxic gasses when exposed to humid air or water.
Due to its toxicity, governments around the world restrict the use of sodium cyanide as a pesticide for farms and agricultural lands. However, some people still use it illegally to poison animals or even humans.
Conclusion : sodium cyanide is a useful but hazardous inorganic compound that requires careful handling and strict regulation. Its applications in various industries make it an important chemical despite its potential health risks. Therefore, it should only be used under strict supervision by professionals who understand its properties and take necessary precautions to minimize the risk of exposure.