Molecule of the Day

Butyric acid has been covered obliquely before – it’s part of the nice-smelling amyl butyrate (which is eau de Juicy Fruit, pretty much). On its own, though, it’s a foul vomit-smelling liquid (the Wikipedia article, however, notes that some intrepid chemist tasted it and reported it had a sweetish ethereal taste).


You may have gotten from the headline, though, that this particular organic compound has made the news lately because anti-whaling vigilantes threw over a gallon onto the deck of the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling vessel. I can only imagine what it’d be like if I dropped a 4L bottle of it in the lab and it shattered – although I can guarantee a lab evacuation speed record would follow.


  1. #1 Jean Raynaud
    March 4, 2008

    One of my former PhD fellows used the stuff to design polymers for water treatment. When he used to fill his apparatus, nobody would dare to enter the lab…
    Even after one year and a half, the stench still remains in the cupboard underneath his hood where he stored monoliths with only traces of the product inside…
    Simply disgusting!!!

  2. #2 Alex Besogonov
    March 4, 2008

    Butyaric Acid?

    That’s nothing! An ID10T once poured 10ml of ethanethiol down the drain in our university laboratory. The smell was so strong, that nobody dared to enter the lab for about 2 months.

  3. #3 Beth
    March 4, 2008

    Wow. Stink as a way to fight illegal whaling. That pretty damn creative.

  4. #4 Uncle Al
    March 4, 2008

    Uncle Al would have gone for a gallon of allyl isothiocyanate and called it the wasabe maneuver,

  5. #5 Jon H
    March 7, 2008

    “Wow. Stink as a way to fight illegal whaling. That pretty damn creative.”

    Seems like a whaling ship that’s been at sea for a while would not be a very nice smelling place to begin with.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.