Why does gas smell?

by | Dec 15, 2020


People always ask us, why does natural gas smell and carbon monoxide doesn’t.

Natural gas is odourless and colourless, the slightly sour smell that we associate with the gas coming from an appliance or leak is due to an odorization process (for safety and leak detection) which adds mercaptan compounds to the end-use gas. (More precisely, odorization compounds are mixtures of t-butyl mercaptan, isopropyl mercaptan, tetrahydrothiophene, dimethyl sulphide and other sulfur compounds.

Your nose knows the smell of mercaptan is unmistakable. And that’s exactly why it is added to natural gas, helping you detect even the smallest amount of natural gas leaking into the air.

In its native state, natural gas is odourless, colourless amounted tastelessly. Mercaptan, the harmless chemical that is added to natural gas, contains, sulfur, which makes it smell.

Many people described the odour of mercaptan as similar to rotten eggs. When mercaptan is added to natural gas, it rises and dissipates much like the gas itself, making the two substances ideal compounds.


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