What is the world's foulest smell? It's called “U.S. Government Standard Bathroom Malodor”

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/17/what-is-the-worlds-foulest-s.html

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I’ve heard good things about skatole (as in, -ological). In particular the Merck index lists it as “strong fecal odor”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skatole
My friend Tom, who figured out how to make it in a dormitory microwave (recipe not to be given here), described it as “not only shit, but really bad shit, shit you don’t want to be around”.

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Oh, oh, I know this one, pick me, pick me…it’s me.

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Mercaptans?

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Rocket fuel scientist John D. Clark in his book “Ignition” mentioned trials of various mercaptans as hypergolic fuels. While they worked, the smell was so vicious and lingering, that even substances as nasty as hydrazine were better idea. The whole book can be found on the internet as PDF and is really worth reading.

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Putrescine and cadaverine get my vote.

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Never imagined what a UFO exhaust smelled like and now that i’m trying i still can’t imagine it. And i’m good and imagininging.

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Was going to suggest the liquid residue at the bottom of a carbon-steel dumpster that serves to hold the organic discards of a large grocery market, including one housing a butcher.

In August.

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Worst Smell in the World. It’s a fascinating episode that ends up far from where it starts.

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I know a person who investigated aircraft disasters. He told me that the worst smell he ever witnessed was the smell of burnt bodies in an airplane wreck (blurred for drastic description). He clearly seemed traumatized by it.

On a lighter note, my brother once forgot to wash a protein shaker bottle. It sat like there for few weeks with cap tightly screwed on and something terrible happened inside. When he unscrewed the lid, smell was so horrid, it made his heart race. He said it was like rotting copse, so I suspect some anaerobic bacteria produced putrescine or cadaverine @Elmer mentioned earlier. The shaker immediately went into thrash - it was far beyond any possibility of cleaning.

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Years ago my roommate left a chicken breast grilling in a pan on the stove, then lay down “just for a moment” and went to sleep. I came home hours later to find my apartment filled with the pervasive smell of death and a reduced-to-a-tiny-lump of as near as I can tell pure carbon smoking in the pan (we’re lucky the place didn’t burn down). Every porous object in the house smelled like a days-old corpse for months. My books were unreadable.

And then there’s the time only a couple of years ago that I and a neighbor discovered (possibly upsetting) the suicide next door… with our noses. Ugh.

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An old co-worker had some kind of intestinal ailment that caused him to expel farts that basically smelled like rotting meat.

Famously, he would walk over to someone else’s cubicle, ask them an innocuous question, then walk away. (As if leaving the stink near someone else would somehow throw people off where we all knew it was coming from. )

Once a friend and I were imagining if there were any kind of ‘real’ super powers a human could have that could be used if you were being mugged or kidnapped. Super powerful farts was one possibility we came up with.

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Thioacetone is probably among the top contenders.

The canonical example ( Chemische Berichte 1889, 2593) is the early work in the German city of Freiburg in 1889 (see here), which quotes the first-hand report. This reaction produced “an offensive smell which spread rapidly over a great area of the town causing fainting, vomiting and a panic evacuation.”

Selenophenol is no weakling, either.

The chemical literature has numerous examples of people who are at a loss for words when it comes to describing its smell, but their attempts are eloquent all the same. A few years ago, Gaussling at the Lamentations on Chemistry blog referred to it as “The biggest stinker I have run across. . .Imagine 6 skunks wrapped in rubber innertubes and the whole thing is set ablaze. That might approach the metaphysical stench of this material.” So we’ll start with that.

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A pathologist chum told me he only fears smelling gleet.

Dr. Lowe also gives a shout-out to isocyanides as well:

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My boss uses this for mouth wash, stop a freight train it will.

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I thought everyone knew UFO exhaust smells like unicorn farts. Lovely.

Worst smell? Freezer full of meat. Power cut blows fuse. Two weeks pass, Unknowing owner opens freezer. I am almost gagging just thinking about it.

Or perhaps … durian thieves?

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https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2009/06/11/things_i_wont_work_with_thioacetone
“Recently we found ourselves with an odour problem beyond our worst expectations. During early experiments, a stopper jumped from a bottle of residues, and, although replaced at once, resulted in an immediate complaint of nausea and sickness from colleagues working in a building two hundred yards away. Two of our chemists who had done no more than investigate the cracking of minute amounts of trithioacetone found themselves the object of hostile stares in a restaurant and suffered the humiliation of having a waitress spray the area around them with a deodorant. The odours defied the expected effects of dilution since workers in the laboratory did not find the odours intolerable … and genuinely denied responsibility since they were working in closed systems. To convince them otherwise, they were dispersed with other observers around the laboratory, at distances up to a quarter of a mile, and one drop of either acetone gem-dithiol or the mother liquors from crude trithioacetone crystallisations were placed on a watch glass in a fume cupboard. The odour was detected downwind in seconds.”

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U.S. Government Standard Bathroom Malodor

ETA

Can I change my answer to:


?

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