# NaOH to stabilize aqueous NaCN

This patent notes in passing:

It may be necessary to add $\ce{NaOH}$ to stabilize aqueous $\ce{NaCN}$. Anyone skilled in the art would know the amount of $\ce{NaOH}$ to add.

Obviously I'm not skilled in the art. I assume the stabilization is against hydrolysis. What is the mechanism by which $\ce{NaOH}$ would stabilize aqueous $\ce{NaCN}$, and how would one determine the correct amount of $\ce{NaOH}$ to add?

(I'm expecting it's some target pH level, but I'm too far along my "assumption" chain to know what the issues are.)

• The mechanism is that the $\ce{OH^{-}}$ would drive those $\ce{HCN}$ (resulting from hydrolysis) all the way back to $\ce{CN^{-}}$. As for the amount... well, yes, looks mighty like it has to do with pH. – Ivan Neretin Jan 15 '16 at 17:25
• The pH is the tip of the ice berg. Many other safety protocols should be observed if working with cyanide solutions. What protocols would depend on the reaction, the nature of the setup (e.g. glassware or apparatus), and the amount of cyanide involved. – MaxW Jan 15 '16 at 19:59