I was writing down a chemical equation with my pencil and noticed the pungent smell of the graphite. This made me wonder if other substances made of carbon, such as diamond, have a similar pungent smell?

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    $\begingroup$ Graphite itself doesn't have smell, diamond too $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Nov 12, 2015 at 17:53
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    $\begingroup$ If diamonds had a pungent smell then they surely wouldn't be the fad for engagement rings. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Nov 12, 2015 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ Does graphite really smell bad? o.o $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2015 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ I'm wondering if the smell is actually chemicals used in the treatment of the wood in your pencil or even the paint as opposed to the graphite. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2015 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ The "lead" in a pencil isn't pure graphite of course. It is graphite mixed with clay typically and who knows what else. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Nov 12, 2015 at 21:52

1 Answer 1


None of the carbon allotropes have a smell. If you smell something from a pencil lead (graphite), then it will be from the impurities in it.

Graphite is made from impure organic compounds that frequently contain sulphur. It is likely that you are smelling this. Mercaptans and other sulphur compounds can be very smelly. on its own


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