The smell of a compound as we perceive it usually depends on which receptors in the nose will bind the molecule (or not).
These receptor, being proteins, are usually rather specific for certain shapes, not for bonding patterns. So chlorobenzene might fit into similar receptors as toluene which would lead to at least partly a similar smell, but that is it.
This means that a substance must be in the vapour phase in order to smell it, which brings me to my question:
- Do all substance (at least those which have a characteristic smell) maintain an equilibrium with their vapours (if the substance is in closed container)?
But if it's true for those solids, then it must be true for all other solids, as well as nonvolatile liquids that do not have a characteristic smell to humans. Is this not the case? Also, if this substance is placed in open air, will it evaporate totally?