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I was writing down a chemical equation with my pencil and noticed its pungent smell. Could graphite itself be the reason for it?

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    $\begingroup$ Graphite itself doesn't have smell, diamond too $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented 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
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 18:04
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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. $\endgroup$ Commented 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
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's based on false premise. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 22:18

1 Answer 1

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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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  • $\begingroup$ Just to add to the statement that none of carbon allotropes have a smell, this is because their molar mass is generally enormous, so they cannot form enough vapour to be detected by the nose. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 16 at 6:52

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