i’d rather smell poop than poop and lysol

you know that natural gas has no smell right? and that they put smell in it because it’s dangerous and you need to know if it’s leaking? well, do you know why they use that particular smell?

A retired engineer for Union Oil stated his company used turkey vultures to find gas leaks. Natural gas has no odor, but a substance is added to the gas so that leaks can be detected in pipelines, stoves, or furnaces. This substance, called ethyl mercaptan, is one of the chemicals emitted from carrion and thus attracts turkey vultures. Union Oil Engineers were sometimes able to find pipeline leaks by looking for turkey vultures circling above the gas lines [source]

12 thoughts on “i’d rather smell poop than poop and lysol

  1. They also use a similar chemical in mines. If a fire breaks out underground, it’s impossible to have fire alarms go off to notify miners to evacuate because they’d never hear them. So, they release a gas into the air vents and they guys know that this means high tail it to the cage. In the mines here, the building that houses the equipment for this are called Stench Houses.

    Just another tidbit of information for ya.

  2. The reason they use that particular smell is the same reason they use that particular yellow for fire engines now. It is one of the most pungent smells, and is one of the most easily detected by the human nose. This is particularly important in cases like natural gas, since a large percentage of those who would accidentally leave gas on (like the elderly, since there’s that forgetfulness thing that starts happening in old age) are also most likely to have weak senses of smell. It makes it more likely that people will actually smell the smell.

    Also, since it’s not something that’s normally released a lot in human houses — ’cause, well, it smells like CARRION — it’s a distinctive smell. You smell that smell, and you go, “GAS!” and go running to find where it’s coming from.

    At least I do, but I’ve lived in houses with gas stoves for a large portion of my life.

  3. i totally have a story about a gas leak, but it’s long and rambling and kind of pathetic. actually it wasn’t a leak, it was me using the stove burners to kill cockroaches running across the stove, when i lived in phoenix. and i accidentally left one on, and … oh it’s a long story.

  4. My mother instilled such a fear of gas in me. I’ve never lived somewhere with a gas stove or furnace. At my house now, we don’t even have a line running in, it’s capped at the street.

  5. I was hoping the chemical was going to be like a sexual attractant pheremone, then there’d be horny turkey vultures tracking down gas leaks… and humping the site… ok that’s not very pleasant. Nevermind.

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