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What Is Potassium Thiocyanate?

author image Allison Adams
Allison Adams has worked as a registered dietitian since 1996. She began writing professionally in 2000, with work featured in a variety of medical publications such as "Women's Health Magazine" and the "New England Journal of Medicine." Adams holds a Master of Science in nutrition and food sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
What Is Potassium Thiocyanate?
A man processes photographs in a darkroom. Photo Credit: 36clicks/iStock/Getty Images

Potassium thiocyanate is an inorganic reagent used for many industrial applications. The pharmaceutical industry uses potassium thiocyanate as a raw material for chemotherapeutic drugs, antibiotics and thyroid medications. The chemical industry uses this inorganic reagent to produce photographs and textiles and to manufacture herbicides, fungicides and pesticides.

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General Information

Potassium thiocyante, also known as thiocyanic acid, potassium salt and potassium isothiocayante is a white crystalline powder with a melting point of 342 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the inorganic reagent is a stable compound that is not compatible with acids, strong oxidizing agents or active halogen compounds. You should take care not to swallow or allow the absorption of potassium thiocyanate by your skin. Contact with the skin can lead to ulcerations and discoloration. You should seek medical attention if you swallow or allow this inorganic reagent to contact your skin.

Textiles and Photography

In fine-grain photography, film processors use potassium thiocyanate to produce reduction in size of individual silver halide grains because of its dissolving action. This physical development produces a more uniform deposition of silver in your photographs and helps in the toning and stabilization of photographs. The textile industry uses potassium thiocyanate to print and dye synthetic textiles.

Electroplating and Pharmaceuticals

In electroplating, metal workers use potassium thyocyanate to brighten or shine the finished product of many kinds of metals. Additionally, in the production of medications, pharmaceutical companies use potassium thiocyanate as a starting agent in synthesis, as a dye and an analytical reagent.

First Aid Measures

If you come in contact with potassium thiocyanate, first call for emergency service while applying first-aid measures until help arrives. If your eyes come into contact with potassium thiocyanate, immediately flush them with water for a minimum of fifteen minutes. If your skin comes in contact with potassium thiocyanate, remove any clothes exposed to the inorganic reagent and flush the affected area for at least fifteen minutes. If you swallow potassium thiocyanate, drink water or milk, but do not induce vomiting. If you inhale potassium thiocyanate, go to an area not exposed to its fumes, give oxygen and begin artificial respiration if necessary with a one-way pocket or other type of respiratory medical device.

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