I was reading this about polystyrene, which says: "Polystyrene is an odorless, tasteless, rigid thermoplastic", and got hung up on "tasteless".

I searched Chemistry.SE for "tasteless" and found this and this, but they don't exactly answer my question in the title, because polystyrene is not considered a poison and is not a natural compound. So for such a highly-used, man-made, industrial-scale-manufactured compound, how do we know its taste (or lack of it)? Was the data acquired in an official way, through intended testing, or only from "accidents" (which I cannot imagine, so just for the sake of argument)?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Not an answer but a fun bit - in 1935 Harold Urey published a short bit in Science on 'Concerning the Taste of Heavy Water' (there was no difference between distilled water and pure heavy water, if you are interested). $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ I'm trying to remember where I saw this, but I'm pretty sure I ran into a paper from the early 1900s where part of the experimental said something along the lines of "[compound] has characteristic taste of [some class of compounds]". Good thing that class of compounds was not strychnoids... $\endgroup$
    – Zhe
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ Historically, many compounds were tasted for sure. For what is happening nowadays, I suspect that first the level of toxicity is determined. Obviously the taste of most of the immense number of new compounds prepared each day will remain unknown :) $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 20:52


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