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Gasoline as we know it is a blend of combustible hydrocarbons and has a characteristic odor. The natural gas we use to heat our homes and (for some of us) cook our food has its own odor, except...

Natural gas as piped to our homes consists of methane, which is odorless, plus an odorant so that we can be aware of its presence for safety reasons. So the odor we think of as "gas" isn't the fuel at all, but an odorant.

So this leads to my question: is the familiar odor we attribute to gasoline that of one or more of the components which are the fuel itself (heptane, octane, etc.) or an additive for the purpose of giving it an odor, again for safety reasons?

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  • $\begingroup$ youtube.com/watch?v=shR7s3aujMY $\endgroup$ – Jacob Feb 4 '18 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Jacob That video comes as a total surprise. I have always found the odor of gasoline to be rather noxious, which is why I wondered about the presence of an odorant. $\endgroup$ – Anthony X Feb 4 '18 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ A roomful of Amoco PHD chemists and chem engineers did not know which compounds caused the odor of gasoline in the '70s. They started a very expensive research project to determine the causes with the intention of improving /eliminating the odor.The Arab oil embargo came and it turned out customers did not care what gasoline smelled like, they only cared about the price. So the project was cancelled so I don't have an answer. $\endgroup$ – blacksmith37 Apr 6 '18 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @blacksmith37 so... short answer, not an odorant but one or more of the fuel components $\endgroup$ – Anthony X Apr 6 '18 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Very likely "more". $\endgroup$ – blacksmith37 Apr 8 '18 at 21:04
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Gasoline has it's distinctive odor because of benzene, which is found naturally in crude oil, which gasoline is derived from. Benzene is a carcinogenic, highly flammable liquid with a high octane number, but because of it's toxicity is not really used for non industrial uses.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzene

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  • $\begingroup$ The United States Environmental Protection Agency introduced new regulations in 2011 that lowered the benzene content in gasoline to 0.62%. (Wikipedia) $\endgroup$ – James Gaidis Feb 5 '18 at 0:02
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LPG has its smell because of a smelling agent called ethyl mercaptan (ethanethiol). It is added for safety purpose around the household or industrial area

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  • $\begingroup$ Natural gas is also orderized . Methyl mercaptan may also be used. $\endgroup$ – blacksmith37 Apr 6 '18 at 20:12

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