Calcium Cyanamide vs. Calcium Cyanide

What's the Difference?

Calcium Cyanamide and Calcium Cyanide are both chemical compounds that contain calcium and cyanide ions. However, they have different properties and uses. Calcium Cyanamide is a white, crystalline solid that is commonly used as a fertilizer due to its high nitrogen content. It slowly releases nitrogen into the soil, promoting plant growth. On the other hand, Calcium Cyanide is a highly toxic compound that is used in various industrial processes, such as gold mining and metal extraction. It is a white powder that releases hydrogen cyanide gas when exposed to water or acids. Due to its toxicity, Calcium Cyanide requires careful handling and disposal.


AttributeCalcium CyanamideCalcium Cyanide
Chemical FormulaCaCN2Ca(CN)2
Molar Mass80.11 g/mol80.10 g/mol
AppearanceWhite to grayish-black solidWhite crystalline solid
Solubility in WaterReacts with waterSlightly soluble
UsesFertilizer, pesticide, and industrial chemicalUsed in gold mining and organic synthesis
ToxicityLow toxicityHighly toxic
Environmental ImpactCan contribute to soil and water pollutionPotential for environmental contamination

Further Detail


Calcium cyanamide and calcium cyanide are two chemical compounds that contain calcium and cyanide ions. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the properties, uses, and potential hazards associated with both compounds.


Calcium Cyanamide:

Calcium cyanamide, with the chemical formula CaCN₂, is a white crystalline solid. It has a molecular weight of 80.11 g/mol and a density of 2.29 g/cm³. This compound is highly soluble in water, and its solubility increases with temperature. Calcium cyanamide has a melting point of approximately 1,100°C and decomposes upon heating, releasing toxic gases such as ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.

Calcium Cyanide:

Calcium cyanide, on the other hand, has the chemical formula Ca(CN)₂. It is also a white crystalline solid but has a higher molecular weight of 92.1 g/mol. The density of calcium cyanide is 1.8 g/cm³, slightly lower than that of calcium cyanamide. Unlike calcium cyanamide, calcium cyanide is sparingly soluble in water. It has a melting point of around 600°C and can decompose when exposed to heat, releasing toxic hydrogen cyanide gas.


Calcium Cyanamide:

Calcium cyanamide has several applications in agriculture. It is commonly used as a nitrogen fertilizer due to its high nitrogen content. When applied to the soil, calcium cyanamide slowly releases nitrogen, promoting plant growth and improving soil fertility. Additionally, this compound can act as a herbicide, inhibiting the growth of weeds and unwanted vegetation. Calcium cyanamide is also utilized in the production of various chemicals, including melamine and dicyandiamide.

Calcium Cyanide:

Calcium cyanide has limited applications compared to calcium cyanamide. It is primarily used in gold mining and extraction processes. When mixed with water and applied to gold ores, calcium cyanide forms a soluble complex that helps dissolve gold particles, facilitating their separation from the ore. This compound is also employed in the production of other cyanide compounds, such as sodium cyanide, which find applications in various industrial processes.

Potential Hazards

Calcium Cyanamide:

While calcium cyanamide is generally considered less hazardous than calcium cyanide, it still poses risks if mishandled or improperly used. The decomposition of calcium cyanamide at high temperatures can release toxic gases, including ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. These gases are harmful to humans and can cause respiratory distress, eye irritation, and other health issues. It is crucial to handle calcium cyanamide with care, ensuring proper ventilation and protective equipment.

Calcium Cyanide:

Calcium cyanide is highly toxic and poses significant risks to human health and the environment. The release of hydrogen cyanide gas, a potent poison, can occur when calcium cyanide is exposed to heat or reacts with acids. Inhalation or ingestion of this gas can be fatal. Due to its toxicity, strict safety measures must be followed when handling calcium cyanide, and appropriate protective gear should be worn to prevent exposure.


In conclusion, calcium cyanamide and calcium cyanide are two calcium compounds that contain cyanide ions. While calcium cyanamide is primarily used in agriculture as a nitrogen fertilizer and herbicide, calcium cyanide finds its main application in gold mining and extraction processes. Both compounds have distinct properties, with calcium cyanamide being more soluble in water and decomposing at higher temperatures compared to calcium cyanide. However, it is important to note that both compounds can release toxic gases upon decomposition, with calcium cyanide being significantly more hazardous. Proper handling and safety precautions are essential when working with these compounds to minimize the risks associated with their use.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.