In the land of the natural gas latte...
Date: Sun, 10 Jul 94 17:40:36 PDT
Subject: In the land of the natural gas latte...
From: WhiteBoard News for July 06, 1994
Washington Natural Gas customers will get a whiff along
with their bills this month.
The company's annual "scratch-and-sniff" brochure,
which features the rotten-egg smell of natural gas,
will be included in the July and early-August mailings.
Scratching the little panel on the leaflet will release
The smell, from an odorant called mercaptan, is added
to natural gas, which is odorless and colorless, so
that leaks in gas pipes or appliances can be detected.
In addition to demonstrating the smell of gas, the
brochure warns people not to light matches, smoke, use
the phone, turn on lights or operate any electrical
appliance if they smell gas. Windows and doors should
be opened to ventilate the area and the gas company
should be called immediately from a phone outside the
[There is a class of compounds that are like alcohols (and phenols) except they
have sulfur in them in place of the oxygen. They stink. These compounds are
called "mercaptans" (ostensibly because the element mercury bonds very easily
with sulfur - i.e. sulfur captures mercury). Not to be picky or anything, but
the "odorant" probably is a mercaptan rather than being called mercaptan. I
know, it's way more than you ever wanted to know about mercaptans... -psl]
© 1994 Peter Langston