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Chemicals with a strong smell

  1. May 27, 2016 #1
    Hi there

    Do you all have any chemicals that you can think of in a laboratory that give off a very strong smell and should be used under the chemhood

    I just used Glacial Acetic Acid today and I had no idea how strong the smell was . from now on I am using it under the chemhood

    I have created a list so far, if anyone has anything else I can add that would be great:
    * Acetic Acid (Glacial Acetic Acid)
    * Acetonitrile
    * Ammonia
    * Beta-mercaptoethanol
    * Cadaverine
    * Chloroform
    * Formaldehyde
    * Hydrogen sulfide
    * Methanol
    * N-Butanol
    * Oleum
    * Sulfuric acid

  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2016 #2
    Carbon disulfide. putrecine, skatole (3-methyl indole).
  4. May 27, 2016 #3


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    It's probably a good idea in the chem lab, as a general safety rule, not to inhale any chemical vapors, even the ones with inoffensive aromas.

    That way, you don't need to run around compiling lists, which are going to be problematic to check in a given situation.
  5. May 27, 2016 #4
    As a chemist, I could never resist getting a good whiff of something I'd never smelled before. Chemists years ago used to taste them as well. I used to wash my hands with carbon tetrachloride. And oh, Tester's glue :wideeyed:
  6. May 27, 2016 #5
    But a lot of compounds with sulphur or ammonium are reliably stinky.
    (surprisingly though Ammonium Sulphate is not)
  7. May 27, 2016 #6


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    The problem with making lists of smelly chemical vapors is that it ignores any which might be odorless but nevertheless still dangerous or toxic.

    In particular, hydrogen sulfide has the odor of rotten eggs at low concentrations, but this chemical is notorious for paralyzing the olfactory nerves when inhaled at high concentrations. You literally cannot smell it any longer and think you are no longer in danger, when precisely the opposite is true.

    The chem hoods are put in labs for a reason, and not just to satisfy the safety boffins. Use them.
  8. May 28, 2016 #7
    Here is a list of them too. I believe all of us have enjoyed the smell of hydrogen sulfide at least once in our lives.
    One of the most common smells we always find interesting but is less known or cared about by many is that of the rain, which is caused by an organic compound called geosmin produced a type of soil-dwelling bacteria named actinomycetes.
  9. May 28, 2016 #8
    When I was a research assistant with the Organic Geochemistry Group at FAU, my boss dang near killed himself with nitrogen. He was evaporating down a sample under the hood with a nitrogen blanket over the sample. The flow rate was stepped up, surpassing the hood's capability to evacuate. After a while, his knees buckled and he passed out.
  10. May 31, 2016 #9
    Thanks for the suggestion.
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