Lead(II) thiocyanate

Lead(II) thiocyanate is a compound, more precisely a salt, with the formula Pb(SCN)2.It is a white crystalline solid, but will turn yellow upon exposure to light. It is soluble in water and can be converted to a basic salt (Pb(CNS)2*Pb(OH)2 when boiled. Salt crystals may form upon cooling.[1] Lead thiocyanate can cause lead poisoning if ingested and can adversely react with many substances. It has use in small explosives, matches, and dyeing.

Lead(II) thiocyanate
IUPAC name
Lead(II) thiocyanate
Systematic IUPAC name
Lead(II) thiocyanate
Other names
Lead dithiocyanate, lead isothiocyanate, lead sulfocyanate, lead thiocyanate, lead thiocyanate (Pb(SCN) 2), lead(II) thiocyanate, lead(II) thiocyanate (Pb(NCS) 2), thiocyanic acid, lead(2+) salt
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.008.887
Molar mass 323.3648 g/mol
Appearance white or light yellow powder
Odor odorless
Density 3.82 g/cm3
Melting point 190 °C (374 °F; 463 K)
0.553 g/100 mL
Solubility soluble in nitric acid
82.0·10−6 cm3/mol
R-phrases (outdated) R61 R20/21/22 R32 R33 R50/53 R62
S-phrases (outdated) S53 S13 S45 S60 S61
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
N verify (what is YN ?)
Infobox references

Lead(II) thiocyanate is reasonably soluble at room temperature, thus it may be difficult to identify in a solution with low concentration of lead(II) thiocyanate. Although it has not been confirmed by other sources than the author of this article, experiments show that even if there is no precipitation of lead(II) thiocyanate in the solution, crystals of the salt may form.


Lead(II) thiocyanate can be formed from the acidification of Lead Nitrate Pb(NO3)2 with nitric acid (HNO3) in the presence of Thiocyanic acid (HSCN)

Lead(II) thiocyanate may be made by reacting lead(II) acetate (Pb(CH3COO)2) solved in water with either potassium thiocyanate (KSCN) or ammonium thiocyanate (NH4SCN), thus causing a white precipitation of solid lead(II) thiocyanate.

Ion reaction:

Pb2+(aq) + 2SCN(aq) → Pb(SCN)2(s)


When exposed to UV or visible light lead thiocyanate will turn yellow due to the presence of sulfur. It is violently oxidized by nitric acid[2] and will releases hydrogen cyanide gas after contact with acid, which is toxic. High amounts of heat such as that produces in a house fire will releases sulfur dioxide gas, also toxic. Like other metal cyanides, Lead thiocyanate explodes on heating when mixed with sodium nitrite.

Health Hazards

Skin and eye irritant, can induce lead poisoning by ingestion or inhalation.

Symptoms include gastrointestinal disorders, irritation of digestive tract, leg cramps, muscle weakness, paresthesia. High doses can result in coma or death. Symptoms present in 1 to 2 days.

Lead Poisoning

Most lead(II) salts have a sweet taste making them a hazard for continued consumption small children. While lead thiocyanate was likely not used in paints due to its light sensitivity, many lead based paints have been used pre-1970s. The paint has a tendency to peel and fall off making it likely to expose small children and pets.

Since Lead poisoning occurs with the binding of Lead (II) to biological systems, research has been done to find ligands that more preferentially bind to Lead (II) than other biological targets in an effort to combat the effects of lead poisoning.[3]

EPA Restrictions

Reportable Quantity 10 pounds –

“Facilities or vessels that release more than the RQ of a listed chemical within any 24-hour period must immediately report it to National Response Center (1-800-424-8802), as well as notifying the LEPC and the SERC. For details, including exemptions to the reporting requirements, see the regulations.” -EPA


Lead thiocyanate is used in explosives, specifically an ingredient in primers for small-arms cartridges, safety matches, and to reverse aniline black dyeing (Gideon). It can also be used as a precursor for preparing perovskite solar cells.[4]

See also


  1. Urbanski, Tadeusz (1967). Chemistry and Technology of Explosives. Pergamon Press. pp. Volume 3, 230.
  2. Bretherick (1979). Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards. Butterworth-Heinemann. p. 121.
  3. Platas-Iglesias, Carlos; Esteban-Gómez, David; Enríquez-Pérez, Teresa; Avecilla, Fernando; de Blas, Andrés; Rodríguez-Blas, Teresa (2005-04-04). "Lead(II) thiocyanate complexes with bibracchial lariat ethers: an X-ray and DFT study". Inorganic Chemistry. 44 (7): 2224–2233. doi:10.1021/ic048768y. ISSN 0020-1669. PMID 15792457.
  4. Tai, Qidong; You, Peng; Sang, Hongqian; Liu, Zhike; Hu, Chenglong; Chan, Helen L. W.; Yan, Feng (2016-04-01). "Efficient and stable perovskite solar cells prepared in ambient air irrespective of the humidity". Nature Communications. 7: 11105. doi:10.1038/ncomms11105. PMC 4821988. PMID 27033249.
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