Lithium cyanide[1][2][3]
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.017.554 Edit this at Wikidata
EC Number
  • 219-308-3
UN number 1935
  • InChI=1S/CN.Li/c1-2;/q-1;+1
  • [Li+].[C-]#N
Molar mass 32.959 g/mol
Appearance White Powder
Density 1.073 g/cm3 (18 °C)
Melting point 160 °C (320 °F; 433 K) Dark coloured
Boiling point decomposes
GHS labelling:[4]
GHS02: FlammableGHS06: ToxicGHS09: Environmental hazard
H226, H300, H310, H330, H410
P210, P233, P240, P241, P242, P243, P260, P262, P264, P270, P271, P273, P280, P284, P301+P310, P302+P350, P303+P361+P353, P304+P340, P310, P320, P321, P322, P330, P361, P363, P370+P378, P391, P403+P233, P403+P235, P405, P501
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
NFPA 704 four-colored diamondHealth 4: Very short exposure could cause death or major residual injury. E.g. VX gasFlammability 0: Will not burn. E.g. waterInstability 1: Normally stable, but can become unstable at elevated temperatures and pressures. E.g. calciumSpecial hazards (white): no code
Flash point 57 °C (135 °F; 330 K)
Safety data sheet (SDS) 742899
Related compounds
Related compounds
Sodium cyanide, Potassium cyanide, Hydrogen cyanide
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).

Lithium cyanide is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula LiCN. It is a toxic, white coloured, hygroscopic, water-soluble salt that finds only niche uses.


LiCN is produced from the reaction of lithium hydroxide and hydrogen cyanide. A laboratory-scale preparation uses acetone cyanohydrin as a surrogate for HCN:[5]

(CH3)2C(OH)CN + LiH → (CH3)2CO + LiCN + H2


The compound decomposes to cyanamide and carbon when heated to a temperature close to but below 600 °C. Acids react to give hydrogen cyanide.[6]

Lithium cyanide can be used as a reagent for organic compound cyanation.[7]

RX + LiCN → RCN + LiX


  1. ^ J. A. Lely, J. M. Bijvoet (1942), "The Crystal Structure of Lithium Cyanide", Recueil des Travaux Chimiques des Pays-Bas, vol. 61, London: WILEY-VCH Verlag, doi:10.1002/recl.19420610402
  2. ^ Haynes, W.M (2013), "Bernard Lewis", in Bruno, Thomas. (ed.), Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (93 ed.), Boca Raton, Florida: Fitzroy Dearborn, archived from the original on 2017-07-24, retrieved 2012-12-09
  3. ^ Material Safety Data Sheet: Lithium Cyanide, 0.5M Solution in N,N-Dimethylformamide, Fisher Scientific, 16 June 1999
  4. ^ "Lithium cyanide". Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  5. ^ Livinghouse, Tom (1981). "Trimethylsilyl Cyanide: Cyanosilylation of p-Benzoquinone". Org. Synth. 60: 126. doi:10.15227/orgsyn.060.0126.
  6. ^ L. Pesce (2010). "Cyanides". Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. Kirk‐Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/0471238961.0325011416051903.a01.pub2. ISBN 978-0471238966.
  7. ^ Harusawa, Shinya; Yoneda, Ryuji; Omori, Yukie; Kurihara, Takushi (1987). "Non-aqueous cyanation of halides using lithium cyanide". Tetrahedron Letters. Elsevier. 28 (36): 4189–4190. doi:10.1016/S0040-4039(00)95575-8.