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A more suitable method of safe, small-scale home manufacture of sodium cyanide involves the two stage conversion of the common swimming pool chemical cyanuric acid.
The first step is carried out by heating powdered cyanuric acid with sodium carbonate. Sodium carbonate is obtained directly as washing soda (or by converting sodium bicarbonate, baking soda). In the second stage, the sodium cyanate produced is reduced to sodium cyanide by heating it with powdered charcoal in a covered crucible (Fig 7.2).
It is important that this stage is undertaken outside. In this process, carbon monoxide is given off. The resultant glassy mass is cooled, crushed and filtered with water to remove the soluble sodium cyanide from the remaining insoluble carbon (Fig 7.5). Careful drying produces solid sodium cyanide powder.
Fig 7.5: Filtering and weighing the sodium cyanide
As with all home manufacture there is a need for great care in carrying out this process. Contaminated items need to be disposed of carefully after traces of cyanide are removed. This is best achieved using chlorine bleach to oxidise any unwanted cyanide and to prevent it contaminating the equipment. The product also needs to be tested by analytic means to determine its concentration and purity. Quantitative tests are available and Exit offers such a service for supporters. Further information that details the manufacturing process can be found in most university and public libraries.