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Author: Subject: Best and worst smelling chemicals?
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[*] posted on 2-7-2008 at 08:57


Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
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[*] posted on 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. :(




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[*] posted on 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!
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[*] posted on 4-7-2008 at 10:25
Sodium azide


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.



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[*] posted on 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).




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[*] posted on 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.
LC50 PEL
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.

Regards.

Der Alte
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[*] posted on 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?
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[*] posted on 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.



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[*] posted on 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: http://www.ehs.neu.edu/hazardous_waste/fact_sheets/sodium_az...

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




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[*] posted on 8-7-2008 at 12:45


Quote:
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.
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[*] posted on 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.
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[*] posted on 5-6-2009 at 12:23


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagusic_acid



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[*] posted on 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: http://dmd.aspetjournals.org/cgi/content/full/29/4/539
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[*] posted on 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 nose...to 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.
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[*] posted on 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!
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[*] posted on 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]
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[*] posted on 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]
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[*] posted on 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]





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[*] posted on 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.



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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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




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[*] posted on 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]




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[*] posted on 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.




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[*] posted on 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]




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[*] posted on 5-6-2009 at 21:49


The Best is eugenol
the worst α-picoline
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