Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Best and worst smelling chemicals?

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F2Chemist - 2-7-2008 at 08:57

Originally posted by MagicJigPipe
Wait... You smelled F2 and lived to tell about it? The impression I got around here is that it's basically almost instantly lethal right around the smell threshold.

I work around fluorine every day. When I first began, my mentor suggested that I smell a VERY VERY dilute sample, so that I would know what it smells like. I have yet to smell it again and hope I never do. It smells like chlorine.

Originally posted by woelen
You could try it yourself. Just melt some KHF2 (you certainly can buy this through one of your suppliers) and stick in two graphit rods and apply some voltage. You will definitely smell the F2, formed in the reaction. You don't have to isolate it, just smell it :cool:

Actually, I intend to do this nifty experiment. I use an empty ampoule for N2O gas (whipped cream gas capsule). With a metal-saw I make two parts and the lower part is filled with some KHF2 and then I heat this with a flame (KHF2 has a fairly low melting point). The capsule is the cathode, the anode will be pushed in the molten KHF2. I do not intend to isolate any F2, but I just want to see it and maybe smell a few micrograms (but not more!).

No offense, but this is a TERRIBLE idea. Yes, this is how fluorine is made industrially, but at it's melting point (and especially if you heat it higher), potassium bifluoride starts to lose HF, producing potassium fluoride. Dilute, gaseous hydrogen fluoride is quite a bit more dangerous than fluorine. Also, if you do this open to the atmosphere, you're not going to get any fluorine, just HF. IF you are going to mess around with things that can potentially produce HF (or even metal fluorides that will hydrolyze to produce aqueous HF), make sure you AT LEAST have a supply of calcium gluconate gel around. Also know that latex is NOT an effective barrier for HF (aq).

I'm all for at home chemistry, but HF/F2 is not something to mess around with without the propper training and safety equipment.

Jdurg - 2-7-2008 at 15:42

As mentioned earlier in this thread, one of the main components to the smell of feces is "skatole" whose name basically implies that it smells like crap. Not very pleasant.

I myself have also made AsH3. Part of a forensic chemistry lab for the determination of As concentrations. It does indeed smell garlic-like and is a pretty signal to increase the flow rate of your fume hood. :P

Two weeks ago I discovered another nasty odor. Sodium Azide. I was involved in a car accident in which the airbags went off, and when I came to the horrifically nasty odor of the airbags were just stuck on me. I think now that the odor will probably always smell bad to me as it brings back memories of that horrific morning. :(

mfilip62 - 3-7-2008 at 16:23

Vanilla extract and nitoglicerine are my favourites!
H2S is not bad at all for me,it is pretty fine actually!

Methylmercaptane is pretty nasty,it is present in the fart,brocully,cabage...
Definitely the worst one is madly sickening sweeatish smell of the corpse and the the and the foulest one known to man is corpse in the enclosen hot space for a long time(plastic bag,fridge) tht thing cant wash off,it enters youre pores and you cann feal it trought the skin,not noly with youre nose,and no you never accomodate to it like to the most other smells.
It makes you wish to kill youreself just to end this torture!

Sodium azide

Tsjerk - 4-7-2008 at 10:25

I have worked with sodium azide multiple times, as in weighing, dissolving, heating, enz. But I've never noticed any smell, I just took a look in my lab and opened my bottle of azide and smelled and wasn't able to smell anything.

woelen - 4-7-2008 at 11:05

At room temperature, sodium azide is a stable salt and does not have a smell at all. I can imagine that after a car-accident, when part of it has decomposed and other part is heated strongly, that there is a smell.

Things become totally different when you add some sodium azide to some dilute acid (e.g. 10% HCl or 10% H2SO4). Then some HN3 is produced and the smell of this is extremely annoying and even scary (it makes your heart beat faster and gives a sense of fear).

DerAlte - 4-7-2008 at 14:03

I have had the same unfortunate experience as Jdurg. I sympathize and agree with him – there is such a smell but I put it down to Na2O particles left after the explosion of the azide. How are air bags set off? I believe the psychological effects of air bags to be worse than the chemical. I hit a deer at 60mph in northern Cal. some years ago. I had nightmares of that damn bag going off, and am a Bambi-hater for life!

Most things that smell bad are toxic, and the nose is a valuable tool. After it was pointed out by F2Chemist that AsH3 is highly toxic, I did a little research. A good source is the French chemical gas manufacturer Airliquide, whose web site gave most of the following toxicities:

The first figure is LC50, the lethal concentration in ppm for 50% kill probability in 1 hour (rat?) the second OSHA environmental limit or some European standard limit for TWA, time weighted average, usually for a 5-day week, 8hrs/diem.
H2Se, H2Te 2 ppm 0,05 ppm
H2S 712 10
H6B2 80 0.1
B2H5 - 0.005
H3As 20 0.05
H3Sb 20 0.1
PH3 20 0.3
GeH4 620 0.2
CH3SH 1350 0.5
F2 185 0.3
CH2(O)CH2 2900 1.0
HF 1276 3.0
HCl 2810 5.0
HBr 2860 3.0
NO2 115 3.0
C2N2 350 (!) 10.0 (!)
HCN 10 (!)
COCl2 5 0.1
CNCl 80 0.3
CO (odorless) 2760 25

Most volatile organic nitrogen compounds are also bad – nitriles, azo etc. Notice how poisonous volatile hydrides are.


Der Alte

JohnWW - 4-7-2008 at 16:49

F2Chemist, just where do you "work around fluorine every day"? An obvious possibility could be an aluminium smelter, in which a molten mixture of Al2O3 and Na3AlF6 is electrolyzed in graphite pots to Al metal, and to F2 which reacts with the Al2O3 to produce more Na3AlF6 and O2. Or do you work in a research or industrial laboratory that produces fluorocarbons and/or PTFE or PVF, or SF6 (used as an insulator in capacitors), or salts of BF4-, SbF6-, or PF6-, which also involves electrolysis of fluorides?

Jdurg - 5-7-2008 at 17:32

Yeah, there was probably a microscopic amount of HN3 in the air after the inflation. Airbags inflate via electrically stimulated decomposition of NaN3 to produce a lot of N2 gas. While my heart rate was indeed racing and there was some fear in me, I don't know if I can attribute that to the accident, or azide vapors.

YT2095 - 6-7-2008 at 00:54

"Sodium azide and hydrazoic acid (HN3, which is formed from NaN3 in water) are known to produce hypotension (low blood pressure) in laboratory animals and humans, and to form strong complexes with hemoglobin, and consequently block oxygen transport in the blood.

Acute inhalation of HN3 vapor by humans results in lowered blood pressure, bronchitis, eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation, headache, weakness, and collapse. A skin designation has been assigned to the OSHA PEL due to the ability of NaN3 to readily penetrate intact skin, and any dermal exposure can significantly contribute to the overall exposure to sodium azide."

taken from:

alkyl nitrites have a similar effect on the BP, and it`s not a pleasant one.

F2Chemist - 8-7-2008 at 12:45

Originally posted by JohnWW
F2Chemist, just where do you "work around fluorine every day"?

A lab that works with fluorine, HF, N2F4 and several others.

Formatik - 5-6-2009 at 10:07

The worst smelling set of chemicals I've ever smelled occurred after ingesting a concentrated soup of asparagus, and then peeing it out. It smelled much worse than a landfill. Good smelling ones are ClO2 which has a burnt sugar smell to it, and furfural which smells like almonds and cinnamon. Though both are poisons.

12AX7 - 5-6-2009 at 12:23

Formatik - 5-6-2009 at 12:47

The horrible stench of asparagus pee is from a variety of sulfurous compounds, some of which are mentioned in the following, most odorous being methanethiol and dimethyl sulfide:

Globey - 5-6-2009 at 14:11

Well, read 1st page only. I'd imagine some of the hydrides mentioned (tell, sell) would be absolutely RANK, EVIL (not to mention toxic.) But from 1st hand experience, methyl mercaptan smells just like my mind's image of some overweight NY mafiaoso who ate his Stromboli too quickly, and so the pepperoni is therefore digesting directly in his intestines (instead of his stomach)....sorry.

Also, I can definitely relate to the pleasant smell of gasoline (IN PROPER DILUTION)....{quick, what does indole type and gasoline have in common). Something about very dilute gasolines sometimes (in the 70's early 80's) as well as a certain very dilute cigarette tobacco smoke....a wonderfully sweet leathery musky smell. Perhaps it has also to do with modifier molecules just previously inhaled? Also, ever drive behind a car and get the odor of fresh (jammy) egg yolk? Not talking the rotton egg H2S, but rather, the very rich and fresh yolky smell/taste let out sometimes by automobiles. Could have sworn cars make a loveboat'esque odour sometimes too, or was that really a mobile drug lab. All the shit we inhale.

Vanillin is so pleasant I agree. And it presents more like a sophisticated combination of scents, than a single ingredient. Other fragrances I like are two men's colognes...Gianfranco Ferrre, and Tamerisk. Never actually smelled heliotropine...would love to smell it, but don't want men who take their jobs way too seriously bugging me for no good reason. Also not sure ever smelled indole....once saw a jar and wafted the contents towards my my surprise, it was more like naphthalene or PDCB moff ball, than the intense fecal smell Merck reports. Could it be someone stole the indole? Again, I may never know, as even ordering a milligram would probably bring the men who take their jobs way too seriously, a calling.

Globey - 5-6-2009 at 14:17

Quote: Originally posted by Formatik  
The worst smelling set of chemicals I've ever smelled occurred after ingesting a concentrated soup of asparagus, and then peeing it out. It smelled much worse than a landfill. Good smelling ones are ClO2 which has a burnt sugar smell to it, and furfural which smells like almonds and cinnamon. Though both are poisons.

To me, chlorine dioxide has a peppery (black pepper) sort of modification of the chlorine odor. Not exactly, but close.

Might be interesting to try a small whiff of very dilute NO in N2 or He2. NO2 itself smells to me like "ozone gone wrong".....then you die a few thousand years later because it's "insidious", lol!

Formatik - 5-6-2009 at 14:57

Well at first I didn't know what to look for with chlorine dioxide, but after reading some references like Archiv der Pharmazie und Berichte der Deutschen pharmazeutischen Gesellschaft [1871] 233 by Hermann Ludwig which is an interesting paper that deals with the classification of odors, describing euchlorine (ClO2 and Cl2 mixed) as having a strongly chlorine and at the same time burnt sugar odor, is also how I came to the conclusion that's what it smelled like. Smell can be quite subjective sometimes though, like how some people find NH3 pleasant apparently (you know who you are :P).

[Edited on 5-6-2009 by Formatik]

Jor - 5-6-2009 at 17:05

To me ammonia used to be very bad, but now I like it.

To be homest, since I have the fume hood, i have hardly smelled anything. But there are few wich I smell all the time. The most common is SO2. I use acidified K2S2O5 solution often to neutralise oxidisers, and when its nontoxic to environment or small amounts, I flush, and thats when there's always a cloud of SO2 rising up, sometimes hitting me, but i do not mind as it is only dangerous at very high concentrations. But it does stink very bad.

Cl2, Br2 and NO2 all have a very similar smell, but they are all different. If you let me smell all of them, at low concentrations, I could distinguish them easily.

Pyridine is really bad. Hexamine smells like fish, but I do not particulary dislike it. Ether is wonderful. Ethanol and acetone are wonderful. Acetic acid is horrific at higher concentrations.

I have the opportunity to buy 25ml of 2-mercaptoethanol, but after reading about its very offensive smell, I have decided to let it go :D

Is anyone able to smell methanol? It's odorless to me :o

[Edited on 6-6-2009 by Jor]

Sedit - 5-6-2009 at 20:18

I smell methanol clearly and always woundered about talk of it being odorless. It smells kind of sweet. Nothing like EtOH if you ask me.

Is there anyway to get acquainted with smells such as H2S or HCN without poisoning your self? I hear some can not smell it and I think it would be a really good thing to know if your one of those folks.

[Edited on 6-6-2009 by Sedit]

The_Davster - 5-6-2009 at 20:57

Dilution is key, I have smelled F2 and H2S with no issues. I also may have smelled HCN, but I was nervous having only worked with it once so it may have been in my head that I was smelling it.

Sedit - 5-6-2009 at 21:15

Dilution was what I was thinking. Generating some HCN outside in the wind and try to catch a whiff here or there but it still comes back to the issue of, what if I can't smell it. If I get closer and closer attempting to smell it then I may put my self at huge risk doing so and im not much of a risk taker IF i can avoid it.

The_Davster - 5-6-2009 at 21:21

Not sure how well it would work but perhaps carry out the reaction in a test tube inside an air-filled bottle of known volume. The scale of reaction in the test tube could be done as calculated to give a non-lethal concentration in the bottle. One could then smell the bottle contents.

Or accidentally make H2S indoors because you were unaware of sulfide contamination in pottery store carbonates, and have to smell it till it dissipated.:P It definately reached the smell threshold and not lethal levels.:P

UnintentionalChaos - 5-6-2009 at 21:24

Quote: Originally posted by Jor  

Is anyone able to smell methanol? It's odorless to me :o

It just barely has a scent for me. Next to a glass of water, I could pick the two apart, but only with my nose right down near the liquid.

Gases I've unintentionally gotten lungfuls of: Cl2, H2S, NH3, SO2

Despite the toxicity of H2S, I think I like Chlorine and SO2 the least out of the 4. They both burn on the way in and SO2 makes me sneeze uncontrollably even in reasonable dilution. Neither appreciably penetrate my gas mask with plain carbon filters. I'm very glad for that. Perhaps the stupidest thing Ive ever done is to drop bisulfite into a liter of solution evolving lots of chlorine. Well, reducing the chlorine makes hydrochloric acid and bisulfate, which release tons of SO2 immediately. I went from choking on one gas to choking on the other.

[Edited on 6-6-09 by UnintentionalChaos]

The_Davster - 5-6-2009 at 21:28

Out of your list, I find SO2 the worst, the smell and feeling seems to stick in the throat.
Although, personally I like the smell of Cl2.

UnintentionalChaos - 5-6-2009 at 21:32

Funny, SO2 never seems to *stick* much. Maybe I sneeze it all out. haha. Chlorine, however, is very persistent for me. It's like I have a pool chemical shed inside my nose for an hour.

One neat experience I had was making my own sodium acetate with distilled white vinegar. Upon boiling down, the condensation products from organic impurities (no longer masked by the smell of acetic acid) smelled exactly like baking bread (probably the same compounds too).

[Edited on 6-6-09 by UnintentionalChaos]

TIETSE - 5-6-2009 at 21:49

The Best is eugenol
the worst α-picoline

Sedit - 5-6-2009 at 22:47

SO2 is the worst thing. Maybe not the smell so much but its effects. I just recently( about 1 month now) opened and smelled a flask that I did not know had SO2 in it from decomposing H2SO4 and some organics... I will A: never make that mistake again.. and B: possibly never breath right again.

I have felt like I have fluid in my lungs since that time and honestly its scaring the hell out of me. My lungs feel... bare... If that makes sence. I hate the smell and I hate the effects even more. The work chemicals I had to deal with are a few chlorinated aromatics. the smelled like marsh gas and even going near the work are days later you would come out smelling like mildew and mold.

hissingnoise - 6-6-2009 at 02:44

Sedit, if you didn't tell your doctor about this when it happened, you should do so now. . .
While a one-off inhalation shouldn't have longlasting effects, you may have had an allergic reaction of some kind.
But get it checked out, anyway. . .

hissingnoise - 7-6-2009 at 13:47

I've found over the last good few years I've come to really dislike strong aftershave and similar scents from other men. . .
I sport a beard, myself, and only trim it when I notice straggliness (I don't use deodorants).
I have this (old?) fuddy-duddy idea that women should "smell nice" and men not at all.
And I abhor the stench of the cocktail of ordinary deodorants that everyone seems to reek of. . .
I don't consider myself homophobic, but I feel uneasy when men are more highly "scented" than women.
It's got the point where a (sexy) scent of a woman is completely swamped in the roiling ocean of cheap stinks.
Inhaling all this stuff can't possibly be healthy, surely?
And of course effeminate men (whose numbers seem to be on the increase) are always the worst offenders. . .
I suspect, though, I may be in a minority of one but then, so be it!

marksev1 - 8-6-2009 at 12:08

In the past few days i had the "pleasure" of working with few lipophilic compounds found in garlic,...diallyl sulfide, diallyl disulfide,methyldiallyl sulfide... when just one empty 20ul pipette tip was left in the room for 15 minutes, there were probably only minute quantites of the substance in the tip yet it had a very strong smell...

chloric1 - 8-6-2009 at 16:18

Bromine! I love the chemistry but I HATE the smell and the effects! Chlorine is "sharper"if that makes sense but bromine more intense, especially in the nasal cavity. I managed to make about 25ml of liquid bromine. I kept everything below 5 Celsius during the chlorination of saturated sodium bromide solution. I did it ouside and only had a little cough here and there. No worries. Then, I found my blackish liquid prize and decided to start washing the NaCl cake crumbs off it. Things got nasty in a hurry and I ended up dropping the whole mess in 5 gallons of water ad dumping a half pound of sodium thiosulfate in the water and letting it sit overnight. I coughed and had a stuffy nose for 24 hours. The next morning, I had a sulfur milk and the HDPE bucket had a yellow staind where the bromine sat and pieces of shredded plastic floatign around. I looked at it and said ,"Imagine what bromine would do to my esophagus!"

Today, I was shopping for gas masks!:P I guess bromine is not safe even when cold. If it is then it takes no time to get the vapor pressure to dangerous levels.

Jor - 8-6-2009 at 16:35

You should chill your bromine, you did this right. What also helps in trying to minimize release opportunities. Use containers with an as narrow neck as possible, cover all containers with watch glasses, and use pipettes to transfer.

Before I had a homemade fume hood, I always made my bromine inside, next to the door with a blower blowing the air out of the door, as I can´t do these things outside, because neighbours will see it, and seeing red fumes will probably make them very scared.

The blower did pretty well, but still I smelled the stuff all the time and once , after the experiment, I had irritation in my nose and SLIGHT pain in my lung when I breathed in deeply. But I knew by theory I had not been exposed to more than 10ppm (very irritating concentration) for half an hour, so no serious results were possible (I read a lot of toxicology reports on bromine).
Nitrogen dioxide has also given me a SLIGHT pain once. This scared me more, but I was fine.

Yes, these things happen sometimes when you're young and unexperirienced. However, I am much more safe now, and a fume hood does wonders. I have hardly smelled bromine or chlorine since I have the hood, and if I do it is very faint and it is because I don't use it properly (lot of equipment in hood, or disturbing airflow in another way), and I use them quite frequently.

I obxserved something amazing. I was distilling bromine and removed the reciever flask after distillation. There was still dark red vapour in the condenser and allonge, wich only diffuses out very slowly. Until you remove the thermometer! At once ALL bromine drops out of the allonge, as it is heavier than. I had a large red cloud running over my work bench. :D

Hexamine is fishy, but not too bad! Benzene smells good. I want to smell aniline, but I am quite afraid of this stuff. Is it a strong odour?
I have once smelled garlic when experimenting with white P. This scared the shit out of me. It could have been either PH3, P4 or P2O3. I hope it was not the second. Garlic is generally a bad sign, toxic P-compounds or As-compounds. A garlic odour in the lab instantly gives me a sense of fear.

[Edited on 9-6-2009 by Jor]

entropy51 - 8-6-2009 at 17:19

Chloric1, instead of buying a gas mask, why don't you build a simple hood? It doesn't have to be so excellent as some of those built by forum members who are much better engineers than I am. A simple wood box with clear plastic doors on the front, and a blower and exhaust duct on the back will do wonders. My hood is not at all elaborate, but I can make Br2 and Cl2 in it without smelling even a hint of that wonderful odor. The main thing is that the blower moves lots of air.

Jor, to me aniline doesn't have nearly as bad a smell of most amines. It's not that bad to work with with decent ventilation. With reasonable precautions I've never experienced any bad effects from aniline, not that it's not toxic. But it's not up there with phosgene or HCN by any means. I suspect skin contact is probably the real danger, do avoid that at all costs.

I think gaseous NH3 is the worst in terms of taking your breath away.

chloric1 - 8-6-2009 at 18:18

I have thought about the fume hood. But I am limited on storage space and I do virtually all chemistry outside. I have a privacy fence so i don't worry about neighbors. One neighbor I have only comes once a week or two to pick up his mail! I almost never see him.;)

The gas mask is nly $38 and I can can build the hood but it would probably cost the same or more. I am looking for portability here. Like I said before the problems did not occur until washing. I will try the narrow neck flasks as well. This website is really fun to read. He used ice and salt and actually froze the bromine! I might try this. I will have some H2SO4 in the solution so only the bromine freezes. Bromine isolation by chlorine gas is best done by low pH anyways.

Just as an aside when the bromine got hot and heavyI couldn't even hardly smell the chlorine. I don't know why bromine is so nasty if it less reactive than chlorine. It must be a concentration thing. But the bromine ripped my bucket a new one big time. Chlorine tends to only harden and brittle plastics.

I love the smell of chlorine dioxide.

[Edited on 6/9/2009 by chloric1]

[Edited on 6/9/2009 by chloric1]

UnintentionalChaos - 8-6-2009 at 18:41

I once had a solution evolving stibine. Don't ask because I still don't know why it was happening. There was a weak rather bad odor that it took me maybe 20 minutes to realize might be something dangerous. The walls of the container were getting splotchy with black material above a clear solution. I spent the night wondering if I was going to die because it has similar toxicity to arsine, which is to say, tremendous.

Jor - 9-6-2009 at 08:59

I have made some stibine once (2 months ago), and decomposed it with heat giving very fine antimony as a smoke :). Covering the erlenmeyer with a watch glass and leaving overnight settled down the antimony as a nice powder :D
And yes it is very toxic, but less so than arsine!

woelen - 9-6-2009 at 09:52

Jor, how did you make stibine? Did you do that in your home lab? I never tried to make stibine, not arsine, I'm too afraid of them. Phosphine I know and I have made that a few times. It also is toxic, but it does not have the serious cumulative effects of the other 2. The smell of phosphine is not too bad to me, but of course it is not pleasant.

Jor - 9-6-2009 at 11:03

You have a point about the cumulative effects, but phosphine is just as toxic as stibine acutely! And antimony isn't that bad, arsenic is however.

Dissolve antimony trioxide in concentrated hydrochloric acid and add zinc. This gave a small amount of stibine, ginving grey smoke when heated.

For these kind of things I turn the fume hood on a higher speed, and I work with great care including gloves. My fume hood really does a good job. Woelen I really recommend that you turn your small kitchen exhaust into small fume hood by making it walled from 3 sides (with glass or wood) and covering the upper half of the front opening with plexiglas. This will make your work with certain gasses much more comfortable, if it performs good. It would be ideal to have a small sash but this may be difficult to make.

Remember that I always do these things really small scale. A small amount of stibine (few tens of mg at most) is not more dangerous than generating large amounts of nitrogen dioxide by dissolving a metal in HNO3, if done with good ventilation! :) In the worst case maybe a mg will escape from the fume hood and this dilutes, so I maybe inhale micrograms at most.

However, arsine should be avoided as the cumulative effects is much nastier than for antimony.
IIRC the LD50 for SbH3 is 20ppm for 1 hour, same for phosphine and arsine (they all have the same mechanism of toxicity AFAIK, so 1 mol PH3 is as bad as 1 mol AsH3 or SbH3 acutely). Very nasty, a few times more toxic than HCN.
However, I was much more uncomfortable when I made some CrCl3 from CCl4, as phosgene was formed : LD50 : 5ppm/1hr. This was quite scary and I had to really watch out to maintain a good air flow and don't influence it by moving in front of the sash and such. Not something I'd like to do again. k&gl=nl

So small scale is the key to safety. Remember that I avoid working with toxic gasses in the first place, but sometimes I am interested in a reaction and I perform it.
Working in a fume hood is much more safe than outside as a fume hood reduces an exposure to an absolute minimum, as all contaminated air is drawn away from the user, even if it is not a proffessional hood. Working outside is fine for Br2, Cl2, NO2, H2S and HCN (small amounts), but the hydrides (H2Se, AsH3, etc) and phosgene are too dangerous. Before I had a fume hood, I couldn't make things like this at all, not the smallest amount, and now I can but only very small amounts.

Ofcourse these are just my opinion. What do you think?

[Edited on 9-6-2009 by Jor]

1281371269 - 9-6-2009 at 14:14

I think one advantage of all these disgusting smells is that when someone 'passes wind' and everyone around you is making disgusted faces you can say 'oh, it's just nothing on the smell of SO2' / whatever stinky compound happens to be on your mind that that moment.

chloric1 - 9-6-2009 at 15:44

Jor you are right. I feel comfortable working with halogens, SO2,NO2,and HCl outside. Hydrogen sulfide might be different though. Most common gas mask do not list that gas as one that is protected from. I would probably insist on a fume hood for this. I would build it. This is the only gas that I feel is worth working with that is REALLY deadly. I do not even consider arsine,phosphine, or stibnine. If I ever get into a postion of making white phosphorus then I will have to deal with phosphine. Especially if I am going to make sodium or barium hypophosphite.

I would like it if someone would show me pictures of there fumehoods for future design considerations. I want to make something unique for my needs and skill level but looking at several different models will feed my mind. It is better if you U2U me instead of clogging up this thread with a bunch of photos.

Paddywhacker - 9-6-2009 at 21:13

A previous poster pointed out that isonitriles generally have revolting smells.

They are made by warming a volatile amine with chloroform in alcoholic KOH. The procedure is even used as a confirmatory qualitative test for amines in labs ... so if you are given a volatile amine then you have a legitamate, if unpopular, reason to make a stink.

But I was wondering how nasty-smelling the isonitriles of cadaverine and putrescene would be. Anyone want to make some and let us know?

Paddywhacker - 11-6-2009 at 22:05

Hey, see this blogpost

Apparently thioacetone is waay nastier than you average thiol. It seems to be made from the thioketal. Anyone got a synthesis?

Edit... apparently by pyrolyzing trithioacetone.

[Edited on 12-6-2009 by Paddywhacker]

kclo4 - 11-6-2009 at 22:36

No kidding, thioacetone sounds amazing. It seems like 100ml of it in the right place could make it on the news. "The entire city..."

1281371269 - 12-6-2009 at 04:35

'So there you have it - just install a fireplace next to your hood (what every lab needs, for sure) and remember that, in a thioacetone situation, fogging the area with brown nitrogen oxide fumes will actually improve the air.'


Formatik - 12-6-2009 at 12:03

In the paper, they state: according to our perceptions, the intensity of the odor of this substance exceeds everything that is known of strong-smelling materials. The same will also make itself unpleasantly aware not only inside the laboratory, but also outside to far distances. He who has made his own experiences in this aspect, will easily be inclined to label the odors of materials like ethyl mercaptan, ethylene mercaptan or easily volatile sulfides, in comparison to sulfurated acetone, as substances of weak odor.

In one instance of distillation involving 100g acetone, hydrochloric acid and hydrogen sulfide which was distilled with steam under careful cooling, the odor spread in short time to distances as far away as 3/4 kilometers into the far parts of the city. If a stench can travel that far to the human nose and not dissipate, it's got to be pretty rank. According to them, even the king of rank.

Attachment: Ber. 22, 2592.pdf (562kB)
This file has been downloaded 602 times

[Edited on 12-6-2009 by Formatik]

Jor - 12-6-2009 at 12:37

When are these sulfurated ketones formed? Good thing to know so I can avoid them at all cost. I really don't want to make such a thing by accident.

Yes by HCl/H2S/acetone, but any other reactions as well?

[Edited on 12-6-2009 by Jor]

Formatik - 12-6-2009 at 16:06

I dunno, haven't seen it described elsewhere. Just don't lead H2S into acetone and conc. HCl and try to distill it as they did, you can read the paper and see this lead to a storm of complaints from surrounding streets so they said they gave up on trying to isolate it. Extremely small amounts will contaminate millions of cubic centimeters of air according to them. Despite the stench and complaints, they said they never experienced ill health effects after dealing with it on several occasions (same thing can't be said for H2S, for which they must have taken strong precautions with). I wonder if O3 could be used for decontamination.

BromicAcid - 12-6-2009 at 17:26

I've had the pleasure over the past year of being a production chemist which allows me to work with a wide array of compounds, nearly every one of them using phosgene during the preparation. The worst thing I have had the pleasure of working with are the isonitriles. In Ugi's monograph on the subject he mentions that some chemists had to abandon their research on isonitriles due to the odor and complains from the neighbors. The odor lingers and sticks with you, stays in the back of your throat, you can taste it and it gets all over everything even with meticulous cleaning practices. The cure? Drinking orange juice supposedly helps but I am never lucky enough to have it on hand.

zed - 23-6-2009 at 00:02

Favorite? There isn't much that beats a big snoot full of Heliotropin. It just makes you feel good! Intoxicating it is.

Sometimes you catch a mild whiff of it in better vanilla ice creams, but for the most part, unless you make yourself a little bit, it's a hard odor to sniff these days.

So, who has smelled Myristicin Aldehyde? 3,4- methylenedioxy-5-methoxy-benzaldehyde. Can anyone present report on the matter? Is it dreamy?

[Edited on 23-6-2009 by zed]

Ketone - 11-7-2009 at 10:37

Good ones: Vanillin, sulfur dioxide, Menthol, Methyl salicylate, small concentrations of Cl2 and derivatives.. (you know, that bathhouse smell) gasoline, and iron.
Burning wood can be pretty nice too, depending on the wood.. No idea what exact chemicals (or mix thereof) that make up the smell though..

Butyric acid.. Worst smelled so far atleast.

Quote: Originally posted by Paddywhacker  
A They are made by warming a volatile amine with chloroform in alcoholic KOH. The procedure is even used as a confirmatory qualitative test for amines in labs ... so if you are given a volatile amine then you have a legitamate, if unpopular, reason to make a stink.

I'd say that many volatile amines stink more than enough on their own..

[Edited on 11-7-2009 by Ketone]

[Edited on 11-7-2009 by Ketone]

turd - 12-7-2009 at 00:56

Quote: Originally posted by zed  
So, who has smelled Myristicin Aldehyde? 3,4- methylenedioxy-5-methoxy-benzaldehyde. Can anyone present report on the matter? Is it dreamy?

My 5 g batch smells nice. I'd describe it as fruity? This comes as quite a surprise, since I seem to remember it not smelling at all when I made it a few years ago. Anyway, I think it would do fine in some ice cream. ;)

zajcek01 - 13-7-2009 at 00:00

I hate:
ethylamine,diethylamine, triethylamine and other amines
chloropirin (I just hate that chemical smell)
methyl ethyl ketone

acetone peroxide smel is somewhere in the middle of the list. I can't decide if I like it or not. It smells so interestingly-confusing :D
It is associated with the smell of danger, the smell I don't want to be around, but it smells quite pleasant and fresh :S

I love:
the smell of burning gunpowder
burning black powder(that SO2 smell brings back some nice memories from my childhood)
burning matches(same as gunpowder)
benzaldehyde (in low concentrations)
propiophenone (in low concentrations)
ammonia smells nice in low concentrations
nitric acid
methyl and ethyl iodide
ethyl acetate
isopropyl nitrate
dinitrotoluene (so sweet....)

ammonium isocyanate - 14-7-2009 at 01:14

Biodiesel, alkyl amides, and dilute methyl esters are my tops for smell...

As for worst, Id say P4S10 (evolves H2S and has its own distinct nasty smell), ethanethiol, strong ammonia, diphosphine, and diethyl ether (when the vapour is very concentrated- and it often is for me, because I work at 9300ft, which is only 71.1kPa).

[Edited on 14-7-2009 by ammonium isocyanate]

thiols and sulfides

Formatik - 15-7-2009 at 20:46

Found this chart from The Practical Handbook of Compost Engineering by R.T. Haug, from which t-butyl mercaptan takes the cake.

sulf.png - 31kB

Enolator - 24-7-2009 at 06:36

I'd have to say the smell i hate most is pyridine. Being in university labs at the undergraduate level, there's always someone doing organic synthesis with pyridine every coupla weeks!
It's rather ironic in a way that pyridine gives instant and temporary infertility in men with just a sniff, and yet it smells quite alot like.....well I'm sure i dont need to tell those of you that have experienced the smell... :P

TheOrbit - 24-7-2009 at 09:18

the worst smell ever is sodium dithionite " may be because i work with it weekly" lol:D

turd - 24-7-2009 at 13:14

Quote: Originally posted by Enolator  
[...]that pyridine gives instant and temporary infertility in men with just a sniff[...]


kclo4 - 25-7-2009 at 01:05

That sounds like a bad rumor to me, I'd like to see a source.
Seems like that would have patents, etc on it if that were the case, and it would be easier to get! lol

woelen - 26-7-2009 at 23:56

Pyridine is a risk when you still want offspring, but it certainly is not the ideal method of sterilization of men. Just taking a whiff of a compound and then being sterile for a certain period of time? No way :P

User - 27-7-2009 at 03:33

Man I love the smell of nitric acid.

Isonitrile stench. Shrek Breath.

Randle Patrick - 31-5-2010 at 06:44

Regarding isonitriles - I had run across them some twenty years ago. Methyl isonitrile, used under a fume hood, still managed to sneak out a bit as deposited on gloves/skin from volatilized CH3NC

It has a certain dental stink about it, a bad-breath character. Shrek breath.

The intensity, even from what devolatilized from a fume hood onto surfaces, was immense. If it were a fecal smell, I'd suggest that a full porta-potty placed on a giant hot-plate and heated unto boiling - that degree of intensity.

I recall it was as equally toxic as cyanogen. Perhaps my recollection is wrong. Beware.

Fleaker - 31-5-2010 at 10:01

Had the great pleasure of working with hexamethyldisilathiane the past several months. It is exceedingly potent in its own right. Opening the bottle to syringe out several microliters in the hood with the damper full open, and the sash down, I can still smell a distinct natural gas odour. My Eppendorf and my gloves must stay in the hood for at least 2 days for the reek to be off of them. I imagine if I spilled a couple milliliters, the neighbours downwind would probably think there was a natural gas leak.

Another stench I hate is morpholine. I also dislike butylamine and ethylenediamine. I also hate the smell of old DMF, and diisopropylcarbodiimide (which many of you will argue that it is not something one should ever smell!).

The WiZard is In - 31-5-2010 at 12:03

Quote: Originally posted by guaguanco  
My favorites: piperonal (heliotrope) and vanillin. I just love those smells.
Worst: Thiophenol; just a foul sulfury smell. Phthalyl chloride; a nasty acrid smell.

Aniline - not a bad smell just an annoying one.

Anhydrous aluminium chloride - me thinks it doesn't emit
Cl2 it produces Cl.

The strangest odour - the better part of a lifetime ago...
I worked in the lab of a rendering plant... granted a
5-day old dead elephant doesn't smell like roses ...
the problem was the plant on the other side of the fence
that re-refined used car oil. Not a bad smell but it had
a curious effect — ever get pains in your stomach when
you were hungry? One whiff and you instantly got the same

For a God awful smell .... dead clams! Their odour will bring your breakfast up that fast.

Stumbled upon this a moment ago —

Angelic acid From the root of Anthemis nobilis by distillation.
Use: Flavoring extracts.

Wonder what it smells/tastes like.

hissingnoise - 31-5-2010 at 12:09

Angelic acid From the root of Anthemis nobilis by distillation.
Use: Flavoring extracts.

Wonder what it smells/tastes like.

(hmmm) Sour maybe. . . ?

The WiZard is In - 31-5-2010 at 12:36

Quote: Originally posted by guaguanco  
My favorites: piperonal (heliotrope) and vanillin. I just love those smells.
Worst: Thiophenol; just a foul sulfury smell. Phthalyl chloride; a nasty acrid smell.

Brings upon my mind this —

Suffocating Balls

"Are made in the same way as the smoke balls [dust of sea coal, pitch, fine
powder, nitre, and tallow]. The composition contains in addition, rasped horses'
and asses' hoofs, burnt in the hoof, assafatida [aka Devils dung], seraphine gum

No doubt -- these didn't smell like roses

SO: Manual of Military Pyrotechny for use of the Cadets
of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. 1831

Several years back out of curiosity I bought 4-oz's
of asafoetida it has a funky smell.

I am not planning on cooking with it. That said I do
like limburger cheese. Must have come from my
Prussian born grandfather. (186?)

You can never find a hippologist when you need one!
What prey-tell is — "burnt in the hoof"?

mewrox99 - 11-6-2010 at 20:55

Best: Methyl Salicylate, Vanillin

Worst: Acrolein, SO2, NH3

Sedit - 11-6-2010 at 21:28

Uggg vanillin.... once so sweet.... getting to be so bitter.....

Not sure I will ever tire of benzaldahyde though since the smell is just heavenly.

Anyone else experiance a chemiphobe type reaction where after being around it to much it turns your stomach just thinking about it? Its really becoming a problem considering I will almost throwup(have on one occassion) from looking at a vial of HgCl2. I now have to keep many reagents far out of sight to avoid discomfort.

Lambda-Eyde - 12-6-2010 at 10:11

I simply LOVE the smell of dilute ozone. I also like most organic solvents and aromatics. The exeption is impure carbon disulfide...

mr.crow - 12-6-2010 at 10:44

The WiZard is In: I would imagine burning hoofs smell like burning hair. I saw this on Dirty Jobs, thats how they install horse shoes!

SO2 isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Ammonia was pretty bad, smells like when you get a bloody nose. HCl is the worst of the three.

Iodine smells nice :)

Oh yeah a relay exploded in my fridge and this horrible phenolic smell lingered for a few days.

mnick12 - 12-6-2010 at 11:53

The best would be:
Bromine-love it so much reminds me of summer, more so than chlorine which is kinda funny.
Ammonia- but I can only handle a little.
Acetic acid- Salt and vinegar anyone?
Benzaldehyde-very nice.

The worst would be:
SO2- I absolutely HATE this stuff the tinyest amounts make me cough and gag.
Formic acid: Hate it because it smells like SO2(anyone else notice that?) and because it gives terrible burns.
HNO3- I dont exactly "hate" this acid, but to me at least it kinda smells like BO which is why I dont really like it.

But In general I can tolerate the smells of almost any standard chemical, even some of the grosser ones.

12AX7 - 12-6-2010 at 13:47

I LOVE the smell of phenol. It reminds me of old circuit boards. :D


zajcek01 - 14-6-2010 at 13:33

Today I opened a new plastic bottle of potassium cyanate (KOCN). The smell was very.....hard to describe........special, fruity, sweet, interesting. I just wanted to smell it a bit more, but judging by the chemical it might not be a god idea. It is probably some HCN.

One of my favorite smells so far.

rrkss - 14-6-2010 at 14:13


Ethyl Bromide
Ethyl Acetate
Isoamyl Acetate
Diethyl Malonate


Diethyl Ether

mnick12 - 14-6-2010 at 16:03

Woah! be careful about sniffing the ethyl bromide, as I have a feeling you do not want that stuff hanging around your DNA! Also zajcek01 I do not think you are going to have HCN evolving from any cyanate very easily, also for those who can smell it, HCN is described as having an almond odor not really fruity.

mr.crow - 14-6-2010 at 18:42

Ohhh we made isoamyl acetate in high school. Maybe that's why I like chemistry so much.

The teacher brought in this old bottle that smelled like a dirty old man, then turned it into bananas.

We have this superglue at work that smells like candy. Well the activator does. Contains N,N-Dimethyltoluidine

gutter_ca - 14-6-2010 at 18:54

Worst. Smell. Ever.

rrkss - 14-6-2010 at 19:01

Quote: Originally posted by mnick12  
Woah! be careful about sniffing the ethyl bromide, as I have a feeling you do not want that stuff hanging around your DNA!

Wasn't done deliberately, just gota whiff of it while disassembling my apparatus outdoors. Has a very sweet smell.

Justin - 19-6-2010 at 20:20

The best IMO would have to be EGDN, im soo glad it doesnt give me headaches, nitromethane is great too. The worst would have to be SO2, it lingers in my damn mouth for ages when i get a whiff of it!!! Cl2,HCl and HF are bad too, where i used to work we had large tanks of 70%HF and when the tanker would come to fill it up i would always be unpleasantly downwind from it. They had a well stocked lab there, too bad i forgot too ask to buy surplus chems when they laid us all off, but that was the last thing on my mind at the time.

Skyjumper - 20-6-2010 at 10:30

THC has a nice smell if you catch my drift...

In all seriousness, I do like the smell of Methyl Salicylate

mr.crow - 21-6-2010 at 08:26

After university skunks smell like THC, not the other way around!

Speaking of which my cat got skunked once. She smelled like burning rubber and epoxy resin for a few days. There must be some sort of nitrogen compound as well. At low concentrations it smells like Tim Hortons, which is one of the many reasons I never go there.

Addon - 22-6-2010 at 07:16

I like the smell of benzaldehyde, toluene and of some ethers, but H2S (off course :) ) and CH3COOH are just nasty.

mewrox99 - 22-6-2010 at 21:38

In fairly low concentrations H2S smells lovely.

Always makes me think of good times at Rotorua

I love the smell of ... in my beard in the morning

The WiZard is In - 23-6-2010 at 05:55

Science 26 December 1975:
Vol. 190. no. 4221, pp. 1316 - 1318
DOI: 10.1126/science.1239080

Changes in the intensity and pleasantness of human vaginal odors
during the menstrual cycle
RL Doty, M Ford, G Preti, and GR Huggins

Men and women estimated (by the method of magnitude
estimation) the pleasantness and intensity of the odors of vaginal
secretions sampled from consecutive phases of 15 ovulatory
menstrual cycles of four women. On the average, secretions from
preovulatory and ovulatory phases were slightly weaker and less
unpleasant in odor than those from menstrual, early luteal, and
late luteal phases. However, considerable variation in odor
patterns was present across cycles from the same donor, as well
as across cycles from different donors. These results indicate that
human vaginal odors change slightly in both pleasantness and
intensity during the menstrual cycle, but do not support the notion
that such odors are particularly attractive to humans in an in vitro
test situation......

"Confusion" — A blind lesbian in a fish market.

a_bab - 24-6-2010 at 02:55

"Confusion" — A blind lesbian in a fish market - made me laugh really hard. Nice one. A friend of mine who did some work selecting lots of old bottles of amines told me the women are less affected by this kind of work. A natural defence perhaps.

Does anyone likes the smell of indole? It's a really nice, flowery smell at the first whiff, but then quickly fades to a definite "scato" smell.

The best part is that once you smell the pure indole, you can easily find it's smell in certain flowers, that would smell like crap to you. Indole is meant to atract certain insects, and so does the poo...

azo - 24-6-2010 at 04:05

! like the smell of toluene you must be kidding ? yuk maybe hexane would be mutch nicer

Strontium - 8-7-2010 at 07:56

My favourite is probably t-Butyl Alcohol. Wonderful clean, fresh smell. Also like Menthol, Iodoform, Diethyl Oxalate (Smells like mince pies on Christmas Eve) and Cyclopentanone.

Worst are H2Se - Smells like a vegitarians fart.
Also not keen on dithiocarbamates, tetrahydrothiophene other thiols Etc.

quicksilver - 8-7-2010 at 14:21

My Heaven's this is really too subjective. Toluene, benzene, naphthalene, etc are not unpleasant if LIGHT. However we have the concentration issue.
But I do agree that Butyl Alcohol, Ethel acetate, etc are really nice. Sulfur-oriented products are nasty because of the link to feces.

Violent catarrh

The WiZard is In - 10-7-2010 at 07:54

I am not sure catarrh is an odour, however, the smell
of SO2 is described as choking....

This from Watt's 4:904. has it. Which saved me the trouble of
typing it in from my hard copy.

Tricarbon disulphide C3S2. B. von Lengyel (B. 26, 2960 [1893])
obtained this compound by keeping the vapours of CS2 in an
electric arc between C poles for some hours, filtering off the black
substance formed, allowing the red filtrate to stand over Cu for 6
to 8 days, and evaporating in a current of dry air. C3S2 is a
deep-red liquid, S.G. 1-27389; the vapour, even in minute
quantities, causes violent catarrh ; can be distilled, with partial
change to a black solid, at 60°-70° and reduced pressure ;
insoluble water, but dissolved by EtOH, Et20, CS2, CHC13, or
C6H6. A conc. solution in CS2 deposits a black solid; the same
solid is formed by gently heating the liquid, if heating to
100°-120° is rapid the change is explosive. The black solid is
probably a polymeride. A solution of C3S2 in CS2 reacts with Br to
form C3S2Br6. (For other reactions, v. abstract in C. J. 60 [11],
91 [1894].)

JohnWW - 10-7-2010 at 08:06

C3S2 would be the sulfur analog of carbon suboxide, O=C=C=C=O. which is the anhydride of maleic acid, from which it can be made. C3O2 is an evil-smelling gas, and is deadly poisonous, at least as much as CO.


The WiZard is In - 10-7-2010 at 12:53

PTOMAINES. The name ' ptomaines ' was first applied to poisonous
organic bases obtained from dead bodies ([Greek] - a corpse), but
is now usually given to poisonous organic bases formed in the
putrefaction of any kind of animal matter.....>

Watt's Dictionary of Chemistry.
Volume 4, p. 346 & ff.

quicksilver - 12-7-2010 at 06:36

It seems logical that nature designed the malodorous power of purification to keep the living FROM the dead. I certainly don't know if purification brings with it an onslaught of disease or poisons (at least to what extent) but the power of that odor is remarkable in it's effectiveness to keep one back & away from it's source!

If you ever get a scan of Watts' Dictionary of Chemistry; please let me know. It looks very worthwhile.

[Edited on 12-7-2010 by quicksilver]

The WiZard is In - 12-7-2010 at 07:14

Quote: Originally posted by quicksilver  

If you ever get a scan of Watts' Dictionary of Chemistry; please let me know. It looks very worthwhile.

---------- — I know they have one
of the four volumes. I didn't check to see if they
have all 4-volumes (checking my hard copy) 3 290 pages.

Volume 1 & 2 of Mellor's opus are also there, however, me
thinks you are going to have trouble finding volume 2.

If you are an anlogue person like myself you can buy a
reprinted edition, or for a surprisingly low price the
original edition. Given— they lack the extreme advantage
that Google's copy has in being search-able.

The WiZard is In - 12-7-2010 at 18:00

Quote: Originally posted by quicksilver  
It seems logical that nature designed the malodorous power of purification to keep the living FROM the dead. I certainly don't know if purification brings with it an onslaught of disease or poisons (at least to what extent) but the power of that odor is remarkable in it's effectiveness to keep one back & away from it's source!

If you don't bury me for the love; you'll bury me for the
stink! Proverb.

Death to Dust: What happens to dead bodies?
Kenneth V. Iserson, M.D.
Galen Press, Ltd, 1994

The first sign of putrefaction is a greenish skin discoloration appearing on the
right lower abdomen about the second or third day after death. This coloration
then spreads over the abdomen, chest and upper thighs and is usually
accompanied by a putrid odor. Both color and smell are produced by sulphur-
containing intestinal gas and a breakdown product of red blood cells. The ancient
Greeks and the Etruscans paid homage to this well recognized stage of
decomposition by each coloring a prominent god aquamarine, considered the
color of rotting flesh.

Bacteria normally residing in the body, especially the colon, play an important
part in digestion of food during life. They also contribute mightily to
decomposition after death-the process of putrefaction. The smell, rather than the
sight, is the most distinctive thing about a putrefying body.

Under normal conditions, the intestinal bacteria in a corpse produce large
amounts of foul-smelling gas that flows into the blood vessels and tissues. It is
this gas that bloats the body, turns the skin from green to purple to black, makes
the tongue and eyes protrude, and often pushes the intestines out though the
vagina and rectum. The gas also causes large amounts of foul-smelling blood
stained fluid to exude from the nose, mouth and other body orifices. Two of the
chemical produced during putrefaction are aptly named putrescine (1,4-
diaminobutane) and cadaverine (1,5-pentanediamine). If a person dies from an
overwhelming bacterial infection, marked changes from putrefaction can occur
within as little as 9 to 12 hours after death.

By seven days after death, most of the body is discolored and giant blood-
tinged putrid blisters begin to appear. the skin loosens and any pressure causes
the top layer to come off in large sheets (skin slip). As the internal organs and
the fatty tissues decay, they produce large quantities of foul-smelling gas. By the
second week after death, the abdomen, scrotum, breasts and tongue swell; the
eyes bulge out. A bloody fluid seeps out the mouth and nose. After three to four
weeks, the hair, nails and teeth loosen and grossly swollen internal organs begin
to rupture and eventually liquefy. The internal organs decompose at different
rates, with the resistant uterus and prostate often intact after twelve months,
giving the pathologist one way to determine an unidentified corpse's sex.

Richard Selzer poetically described the process in Mortal Lessons:

There is to be feast. The rich table has been set. The board groans. The
guests have already arrived, numberless bacteria that had, in life, dwelt in
saprophytic harmony with their host. Their turn now! Charged, they press
against the membrane barriers, break through the new softness, seep
across plains of tissue, devouring, bleaching gas-a gas that puffs eyelids,
cheeks abdomen into bladders of murderous vapor. The slimmest man take
on the bloat of corpulence. Your swollen belly bursts with a ripping sound,
followed by a long mean hiss.

And they are large! Blisters appear upon the skin, enlarge, coalesce,
blast, leaving brownish puddles in the declivities. You are becoming
gravy...Gray sprays of fungus sprout in the resulting marinade, and there
lacks only a mushroom growing from the nose.

By da - the science of what happens to dead bodies is called
taphonomy. The pioneering work on this is —

Johannes Weigelt (1890-1958)
Renzente Wirbeltierleichen und ihre palöbiologische Bedeutung
Leipizig by Verlag von Max Weg (1927)

Recent Vertebrate Carcasses and their Paleobiological Implications
Translated by Judith Schaefer
University of Chicago Press 1989

Wayward Bodies
[Words attributed to unknown British Soldiers 1854/1856.]

Did you ever think when a hearse goes by,
That you may be next to die?

They take you out to the family plot,
And there you wither, decay and rot.

They wrap you up in a bloody sheet,
And then they bury you six-feet deep,.

And all goes well for a week or two,
And then things start to happen to you.

The worms crawl in the worms crawl out,
The ants play pinochle on your snout!

One of the worms that's not so shy,
Crawls in one ear and out one eye.

They call their friends and their friends' friends too,
They'll make a horrid mess of you!

And then your blood turns yellow-green,
And oozes out like whipping cream.
[Spoken] Darn, me with a spoon!

Your eyes fall in your teeth fall out,
Your liver turns to sauerkraut.

So never laugh when a hears goes by,
For you may be the next to die.

peach - 15-7-2010 at 01:39

I also suspect it was HF;

Though not extremely flammable in gaseous form, many dusters use a fluorocarbon which can burn under some conditions, and warn of this on the packaging. The gas is very flammable and can ignite and can cause pulmonary failure, which can be fatal. When inverted to spray liquid, the boiling fluorocarbon aerosol is easily ignitable, producing a very large blast of flame and extremely toxic hydrogen fluoride as a combustion product.

I like this topic and will be reviewing it at a later date, as I've had a fascination with smelling and tasting things people think are odd.

My favourites for now would have to be Iodine and Vitamin C, assuming it's supposed to smell the way my container of it does. Glacial acid is also nice, from a distance. And, of coarse, petrol and epoxy glue.

mewrox99 - 15-7-2010 at 05:24

Since water has some vapor pressure at STP, I wander if aliens from a non-water rich planet could smell it. If they could what would it smell similar too?

LOL unanswerable questions.

Post 9/11

The WiZard is In - 18-7-2010 at 07:37

I find myself living in Central New York where I am daily
reminded that the smell of even the largest barnyard in August
is perfume compared to that which arose from the smoldering
remains of the Twin Towers after the homicidal 9/11 attack.

Rattata2 - 20-7-2010 at 01:04

Heh, a couple of you guys noted acetone, methanethiol, chlorine and H2S as some of the worst smells you've ever come upon. However, all four of these I actually rather like in mild concentrations..I absolutely love the smell of acetone, chlorine smells rather sweet as well unless it becomes overpowering.

I had the pleasure of smelling H2S one time in New Mexico at a hotel..there was an oil pump in the desert behind the place and I went to check it out (I wanted to study how it worked.) Apparently natural H2S is released in the process, and as I got close I began to catch whiffs of the gas. The funny thing was, that although it was a rather smelly compound I rather enjoyed it in low concentrations and after leaving the perimeter had a desire to go back and smell it some more (yes I know it is toxic.) There were signs all over the fence warning of the hydrogen sulfide saying not to light a match etc. lol.

As far as methanethiol, I believe that is what I obtained by burning a small amount of DMSO. Again, although it has a very overpowering stench to it, in lower concentrations I rather like the way it smelled.

Some of the worst things I've smelled...trying to boil all the water out of car-battery acid once (when I was much younger) really stunk up the house. The smell of pennies on my hand I find repulsive..wish I knew what caused that. Formaldehyde is nasty to me and formic acid is repulsive!

I haven't had the pleasure of smelling heliotropin (that I know of) yet, benzaldehyde and vanillin both smell great but zingerone (or well ginger in general) is one of my most craved smells..I could smell that all day! Cinnamaldehyde is up there too..but not as high as zingerone.

[Edited on 20-7-2010 by Rattata2]

JohnWW - 20-7-2010 at 01:44

I wonder what the isomers of NH2-(C5H3N)-SH (aminopyridinethiol), NH2-(C5H2N)(SH)2 (aminopyridinedithiol), and NH2-(C5H3N)-SeH (aminopyridineselenol) would smell like, if they could be synthesized? Absolutely terrible, I'm sure.

The WiZard is In - 20-7-2010 at 06:53

Quote: Originally posted by Formatik  
The worst smelling set of chemicals I've ever smelled occurred after ingesting a concentrated soup of asparagus, and then peeing it out. It smelled much worse than a landfill.

Reference attached.

Occurrence of S-Methy Thioesters in Urines of Humans
After They Have Eaten Asparagus

Attachment: Asparagus Science.pdf (506kB)
This file has been downloaded 574 times

The WiZard is In - 20-7-2010 at 07:31

Uno-el-Garlic-Soupo.jpg - 781kB

benzylchloride1 - 24-7-2010 at 21:51

Alkyl tin compounds are some of the more awful smelling compounds from my experience. Tetraethyl tin, tributyl tin chloride and allytin tributyl tin smell like rotting garbage.
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