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Cyanide smells?


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I started reading a novel called 'Cause of Death' by partica Cornvell. And in that novel Dr.Kay Scarpetta quotes:


" the ability to smell cyanide is a rex-linked recessive trait that is inherited by less than thirty percent of the population"


Now I want to know how true this is? Can anyone here smell literally smell cyanide?

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I can (and have) smelled it a few times, but I can`t detect it at very low levels.


did you Also know that Smoking a Cigarette in a Lab was encouraged when handling Cyanides?

apparently is helps sensitize your nose to lower levels :)


I`m also a smoker, so it`s possible that if I Didn`t that I wouldn`t be able to smell it very well at all!

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No, I believe the stuff found in super glue is cyanoacrylate, which doesn't have a simple as structure as acetonitrile.


I thought it was Methyl cyanoacrylate in super glue?


but you`re right, I saw it as a Methyl and a Cyanide group rather than the whole being Acetonitrile :doh:




does ne one know where i can get calcium?


try eBay :)

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never really thought about it as I have Cyanide in the Lab anyway, but there Are some root veg that contain it, one is like a sweet potato and used in a Brazilian dish, I don`t rem the name though :(

I think Cassava root also contains it as do Apricot pips.

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  • 1 month later...

phenyl cyanide, yes. I dont know about hydrogen cyanide. i dont think i'd even try. I think everyone could smell the phenyl cyanide. I used it in the fume cupboard but people would always complain about the smell anyway.


There really is no such thing as "cyanide". the poisonous stuff you see in the movies is either hydrogen cyanide (if they breathe it) or sodium or potassium cyanide (if they eat it). There are hundreds more.

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  • 6 years later...

I wouldn't recommending home testing your ability to smell cyanide. Think of the consequences if you weren't able to smell it, you could end up being poisoned.


Just for the record, I can smell cyanide compounds, as can my mum and as could my dad. My two brothers and my sister cannot. I have worked with hydrogen cyanide and potassium cyanide, when I was employed by a large chemical company.

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