Cyanide Policy


Due to its high toxicity, the availability of lithium, potassium and sodium cyanide is limited to those with an authorized need. Central storage of alkali salts of cyanide will be in the Chemistry Stockroom. The researcher’s faculty adviser must approve researcher access to them. The policy was recommended by the Safety Committee, reviewed by the Chemistry Faculty and approved by the Department Chair.


Bottles of lithium cyanide, potassium cyanide, and sodium cyanide will be stored under lock and key in the Chemistry Stockroom. Containers will be segregated and stored by Faculty Adviser.  A research group’s cyanide salts will only be issued to researchers within that group unless specific approval has been obtained from the owner.

Researcher access to cyanide salts requires permission from their Faculty research adviser or in exceptional situations, the Department Chair. The process involves submission of a request form available at  The requestor fills in the information blocks and presses “submit request” which emails the form to the Faculty adviser for approval. The adviser indicates approval by forwarding the email to the stockroom with the added word “APPROVED”. 

One approval has been received the cyanide salt will be issued to the requester by the stockroom manager. If the stockroom manager has any reservations concerning the authenticity of the request, they may temporarily delay fulfillment while seeking advice from their immediate supervisor.

The researcher agrees, by signing the request form, to:

  • Be responsible for the safety of themselves and others during use of the cyanide
  • Commit to storage of the cyanide in a discreet location when not in use
  • Commit to return remaining the cyanide salt once the need has been met, no later than the duration estimated by the Faculty Research Adviser, or alternately submit a new request if the need continues.

The stockroom will maintain a log of persons to whom a cyanide salt has been issued, date of issue, proposed date of return, and actual date of return. In the event an alkali salt of cyanide is overdue, storeroom personnel will report it to the Department Safety committee, with a copy to the Chair of the Department.

The Department of Chemistry chemical inventory will not display alkali salts of cyanide. 

(Published Oct. 2017, G. Pedersen)