Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What Is The World's Smelliest Chemical?

Wikipedia corrals some of the suspects here: link  I thought I'd put their mugshots up here. Please vote for your favorite in the comments or suggest your own "worst."

(1) Spermidine, the essence of "funky spunk." 

Spermidine is related to aptly-named cadaverine and putrescine.

(2) Trimethylamine, the essence of "fish taco:"

(3) Butyric Acid, the essence of vomit:

(4) Skatole, an indole & the essence of poop:

(5) Mercaptans--methyl and butyl thiols--the essence of skunk:

R = methyl and butyl

(6) Hydrogen sulfide, H2S, the essence of rotten eggs and bad farts:

Runner's up which did not make Wiki's list:
(a) Cacodyl, named from the Greek, meaning "evil-smelling."
(b) Bromine, from Greek βρῶμος, brómos, meaning "stench (of he-goats)"
(c) Cyclohexane thiol: This is technically covered under (5), but to my nose smells like the essence of armpit B.O.


  1. I put butyric acid on a lab partner's sweater in high school. I was not well-like the rest of the day.

  2. The word butyric derives from the same root as butter. As an aside, the German word is buttersäure.
    In first grade I had a classmate named Patrick who hated milk. We'd get those small cartons for 2 cents. Anyways, he would open the cartons and pretend to drink it. Then he'd hide the evidence in his desk (one of those flip top ones). Eventually, the rank smell of butyric acid gave away his little secret.