When roasting vegetables in a oven, after a while there is a nice caramel smell. After that, if they start burning, there is a smokey smell, and if they continue to burn, the smokey smell gets more and more acrid. The smell really sticks in the back of your throat/sinuses, and induces gagging if it's strong enough. What chemicals make up the gasses and particles that cause that acrid smell?

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    $\begingroup$ The chemistry of cooking is quite complex. Sugars present in food can suffer multiple dehydration reactions resulting in a complex mix of degradation products, including unsaturated ketones/aldehydes, some of which are noted to have an acrid smell/taste, such as acrolein (though acrolein itself seems to be more related to burning fat than sugars). $\endgroup$ Nov 7, 2013 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ If only the Maillard reaction products were also classified by acrid-smell :) $\endgroup$ Nov 7, 2013 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


Take a look at this link about Maillard reactions:


And what occurs if continue burning: pyrolisis



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