Nitrobenzene (More toxic fragrance)

Nitrobenzene is a simple enough molecule. It smells just like benzaldehyde - it's really strikingly similar if you've smelled both. If you haven't, it's the artificial almond-cherry flavoring smell.


Nitrobenzene, like many nitroaromatics, is a bit toxic (although not as bad as plain benzene, purportedly!) Its nice (sort of) smell has resulted in its use as a solvent. It used to be ubiquitous in shoe polish.

It also has some mild oxidizing character to it - I once did a reaction that involved dissolving your reagent in straight nitrobenzene and heating - it was both oxidizer and solvent (ostensibly producing aniline, but I'm not sure). Supporting the aniline theory was the fact that the product was colorless, nitrobenzene is colorless, and aniline is colorless, but the reaction mixture was brilliant yellow - charge transfer complexes in action!

Sadly, the reaction never worked that well.


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It used to be ubiquitous in shoe polish.

I live in Lebanon, where we tend to use all the material that have been recently banned in all of the advanced, more civilized countries, I have never EVER come across any shoe polish that smelled anything close to "nice", if it was used in the past across the US then it should still be used here nowadays