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Thread: What else smells like Formaldehyde?

  1. #1
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    What else smells like Formaldehyde?

    I've always had a very acute sense of smell, and while it sometimes deserts me for colds and whatnot, it's been pretty constant throughout my life. I've also become pretty good at identifying things by smell. Extra Gum, for example, I can pick out of a crowded restaurant. I can also smell the difference between diet and regular sodas most of the time.

    When I was in the 8th grade, we dissected fetal pigs in biology. They were packaged in a formalin solution, which seems to be a aqueous solution of formaldehyde. It has a very distinctive smell, and I've been smelling it all night.

    I work in a hotel, and Meth cooks are pretty prevalent in this city. It's not unusual for them to set up in a hotel or similar place until they get caught or too freaked out to come back. Meth is supposed to smell like cat urine; sort of a high ammonia content. I can't seem to track it down to a particular room though.

    What else smells like that?
    I'm Not Evil.
    An evil person would do the things that pop into my head.

  2. #2
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    Tog....hi...
    dunno about meths...but I found this link at CDC....
    http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts111.html#bookmark03

    I would have thought that red ants would smell of formaldehyde, as they hit us with formic acid?!?!
    not that i've ever smelled them....

    hope the link helps you a bit.

    happy hunting....

  3. #3
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    Formaldehyde is one of the chemicals you can use to make methamphetamine.

    It's also not unheard-of to soak marijuana in formaldehyde.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tog_ View Post
    I've always had a very acute sense of smell, and while it sometimes deserts me for colds and whatnot, it's been pretty constant throughout my life. I've also become pretty good at identifying things by smell. Extra Gum, for example, I can pick out of a crowded restaurant. I can also smell the difference between diet and regular sodas most of the time.

    When I was in the 8th grade, we dissected fetal pigs in biology. They were packaged in a formalin solution, which seems to be a aqueous solution of formaldehyde. It has a very distinctive smell, and I've been smelling it all night.

    I work in a hotel, and Meth cooks are pretty prevalent in this city. It's not unusual for them to set up in a hotel or similar place until they get caught or too freaked out to come back. Meth is supposed to smell like cat urine; sort of a high ammonia content. I can't seem to track it down to a particular room though.

    What else smells like that?
    Insulation.

  5. #5
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    It is not unusual for Formaldehyde or similar compounds to be used in various types of glues and finishes. Anyone installing carpeting or something like that? Maybe a new epoxy coating on the pool?
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  6. #6
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    Some cleaning supplies contain formaldehyde.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tog_
    I've always had a very acute sense of smell ...
    I'm blessed (or cursed) with that same sense. Once I almost had an entire office evacuated because of a fire only I could smell. It turned out some workers were blast firing tar shingles on a roof top three blocks away. Oops.

    Tog_ can probably relate to this: every once in a while I'll smell something I haven't smelled in years (or decades) and that smell will bring back a spontaneous and immediate flood of associated memories.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tog_
    ... What else smells like that?
    Well, I knew this girl once ...

  8. #8
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    Formalin, formaldehyde, Kahle's solution...by any name or formulation, I hate the stuff. I used to have to work on bug samples preserved in formalin -- it wreaks havoc on many aquatic invertebrate specimens, making some unidentifiable. Plus the smell. Blech!

    I remember buying a pillow once from one of the large department stores in Denver. I was advised to leave said pillow outside for a couple of days because the shipment had been stored with formaldehyde in the cargo container -- sorry, I don't know why, but I assume it kept out creepy crawlies (yes, that's a technical term in my business). Anyway, after a day or so, the odor went away and the pillow is still a keeper after 12 years.
    So many bugs, so little time.

  9. #9
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    But don't you miss that New Pillow Smell?

    Formaldehyde smells very different than formic acid. To me formic acid is like acetic acid, but harsher. Although glacial acetic acid is no picnic.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike alexander View Post
    Formaldehyde smells very different than formic acid. To me formic acid is like acetic acid, but harsher. Although glacial acetic acid is no picnic.
    Yes, very different smells.
    We use formic acid somewhat regularly, and every time I smell it, I have to say "THEM!" in a little girl voice. Very few people get it.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Yes, very different smells.
    We use formic acid somewhat regularly, and every time I smell it, I have to say "THEM!" in a little girl voice. Very few people get it.
    One of the few, here. I think I need some antacids now!
    So many bugs, so little time.

  12. #12
    It's just A.DIM's life's building blocks from space, concentrating near your nose.

    Presumably life is starting anew somewhere in your vicinity. Happens all the time.

    Edit: Any FEMA emergency habitat trailers nearby?
    0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 ...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tog_ View Post
    When I was in the 8th grade, we dissected fetal pigs in biology. They were packaged in a formalin solution, which seems to be a aqueous solution of formaldehyde.

    What else smells like that?
    Formalin is 10% formaldehyde in an buffered solution. While ammonia does have a similar smell, I can distinguish them.

  14. #14
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    I also have an outstanding sense of smell. When I was in the Navy aboard ship I smelled out three electrical fires while they were still in the "insulation getting hot" phase. Did the same thing numerous times with my aquarium set ups.

    If I smell something burning I ALWAYS stop what I'm doing and seek out the source. Got annoying as hell when the neighbors in the apartment complex just upwind of me, who seem to be in construction/demolition started using former structural wood for barbeques. Smell like a, well, house fire.

  15. #15
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    Heh, thanks for the replies all.

    No remodeling is going on in the hotel that would use any epoxy or carpet adhesive. No FEMA trailers that I know of. There is a building being built nearby, but so far, it's just the steel. I'm not even sure if their done with the final shape yet.

    I did find the article on formaldehyde being found in interstellar space, but I'd sort of expect that to be in more locations than just the lobby.

    There is a room in house that had a gasoline smell coming from it a few days before. Then this, but I can't pin it to a specific room. The idea that it might be meth cooks at work shouldn't be ruled out, I just can't seem to find anything very corroborative about it being used.

    Don and kleindoofy, I'm right there with you guys on that "familiar" smell thing. At the store one day, I got a whiff of fire. I ened up tracking it from my "office" in the back of the building (southeast corner) to the northwest entrance where I found a cigarette had missed the ashtray and caught and was smoldering on a wad of paper behind a vending machine.

    There are a lot of other things that I smell that bring a flood of memories back to me. Some good, some not. Burning electronics will always take me to a winter's day when I was up around 6 AM playing with the racecar track set I got when I was 5. Turns out that 4 cars was too many for one controller.
    I'm Not Evil.
    An evil person would do the things that pop into my head.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike alexander View Post
    Although glacial acetic acid is no picnic.
    We used that in geology school to dissolve carbonate rocks.

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