By Dylan Mathwig

Where Cyanide Is Found:

As a poison:

  • Hydrogen Cyanide (colorless gas)
  • Potassium Cyanide
  • Sodium Cyanide.

In Nature:

  • In certain bacteria, fungi, and algae
  • In certain fruit seeds (Appricots, apples, and peaches)
In the Modern World:

  • Exhaust of internal combustion engines
  • tobacco smoke
  • Certain plastics when burned
  • Used to make a blue color Cyan and Cyan variations

Cyanide Chemical and Physical Properties:

  • Color: bluish color or colorless (Hydrogen Cyanide)
  • Molecular Weight: 26.007 g mol -1
  • Highly reactive.

Effects of Cyanide on the Human Body:

  • Once in the human body, Cyanide combines with the iron in your body making your cells unable to absorb oxygen.
  • The heart and the brain die off first as those organs use the most oxygen.

Lethal Dose For An Average Adult:

1.5 mg/kg of body weight.

Effective Deliverance For Cyanide Poison:

Since it dissolves in water, cyanide is most commonly used in a pill form. It is usually put in something the target may drink.

Symptoms for Acute Cyanide Poisoning:

  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Histotoxic hypoxia
  • Apnea
  • Death in seconds or minutes

Symptoms For Chronic Cyanide Poisoning:

Long term effects of exposure to Cyanide can lead to Heart Problems and Brain Problems. It can also result in permanent paralysis, nervous lesions, hypothyroidism, and miscarriages.

Cyanide effective?

Cyanide is extremely effective in short time frames. It takes only minutes to kill depending on body weight and amount ingested. Since cyanide is not commonly found, deaths from it are usually caused by intentional poisoning.

Where might a medical examiner find traces of this poison while doing an autopsy?

The skin of cyanide victims may change different colors based upon level of cyanide ingested. Lungs will contain a high hydrocyanic acid level if victim inhaled cyanide. If ingested, the cyanide will appear mostly in the stomach.

Are there any other clues a medical examiner might be looking for?

Cyanide will also be contained in blood, the brain, the heart, and possibly the intestines.

What is the treatment for survivor of this poison?

Cyanide Antidote kits contain injections containing amyl nitrate, sodium nitrate, hydroxocobalamin, and a number of other compounds that effectively mix with the cyanide making it less toxic.

Famous Cases:

Nazi Deaths By Cyanide:

  • Nazi's: elite soldiers given small cyanide pills in case of capture
  • Joseph Goebbles
  • Heinrich Himmler
  • Herman Goering
  • Adolf Hitler- took cyanide then shot himself at the end of WWII
  • Eva Braun- Hitlers girlfriend, took cyanide with Hitler
  • German gas chambers regularly used cyanide gas until it became too expensive to produce and the Nazi SS started killing by burning.


  • Jonestown
  • Heavens Gate
  • Treitz
  • Wallace Carothers
  • Alan Turing
Writers and Artists:
  • Leopold Lugones
  • Polidori
  • Clover Adams
Other Notable Cases:
  • Rasputin:
  • Erwin Rommel
  • Eva Braun
  • James Whitaker Wright
  • Cyanide Mohan- serial killer in India who killed 20 women with cyanide