What dissolves cyan-salts (NaCN and KCN) without destroying them the way water does via hydrolysis?

I have to make my own cyan-salts, so they're somewhat precious to me. Every time I have to separate them (from metal cyanides as well as carbon and oxide impurities) using water I lose some: I can precipitate some from an aqueous solution with alcohol, but the rest hydrolyses significantly before it can be desiccated with the "amateur"-grade gear I have (I've tried both freeze-drying and vacuum drying).

What solvents can separate the cyan-salts from the other substances without hydrolysing, oxidizing, or otherwise destroying them? (Ideally a solvent that is relatively volatile at room temperature so I can readily evaporate it to recover the salts.)

  • $\begingroup$ Would ammonia or hydroxylamine be doable with your resources/equipment? $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Feb 16 '17 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ @airhuff - I believe so, but in what form or solution? $\endgroup$
    – feetwet
    Feb 16 '17 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ What are the other salts/substances that you are separating out from the cyan-salts? $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Feb 16 '17 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @airhuff: I smelt ferrocyanides, which produce NaCN and KCN mixed up with iron oxides and, inevitably, carbon. (There are certainly some small portion of cyanates produced in the process as well, but those don't cause any significant problems for my purposes.) $\endgroup$
    – feetwet
    Feb 16 '17 at 16:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.