Fulminic acid

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Fulminic acid
Fulminic acid 3D spacefill.png
IUPAC name
3D model (JSmol)
Molar mass 43.02 g mol−1
Conjugate base Fulminate
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Fulminic acid is a chemical compound with a molecular formula HCNO. Its silver salt was discovered in 1798 by Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli who found that if silver was dissolved in nitric acid and the solution added to spirits of wine, a white, highly explosive powder was obtained.[1] In 1800 Edward Charles Howard also created silver salt and was later investigated in 1824 by Justus von Liebig. Howard also created mercuric salt in 1799, who substituted mercury for silver in Brugnatelli’s process.[1] It is an organic acid and an isomer of isocyanic acid, whose silver salt was discovered in 1825 by Friedrich Wöhler.[2] [3] The free acid was first isolated in 1966.[4]

Fulminic acid and its salts (fulminates), for instance mercury fulminate, are very dangerous, and are often used as detonators for other explosive materials, and are examples of primary explosives. The vapors also are toxic.


  1. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fulminic Acid" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 299.
  2. ^ F. Kurzer (2000). "Fulminic Acid in the History of Organic Chemistry". J. Chem. Educ. 77 (7): 851–857. doi:10.1021/ed077p851. Archived from the original on 2009-02-18.
  3. ^ F. Kurzer (1999). "The Life and Work of Edward Charles Howard". Annals of Science. 56 (2): 113–141. doi:10.1080/000337999296445.
  4. ^ Beck, W. and Feldl, K. (1966), The Structure of Fulminic Acid, HCNO. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl., 5: 722–723. doi:10.1002/anie.196607221