What makes our armpits smell when we sweat? And how do deodorants and antiperspirants fight the odour? This edition of Periodic Graphics in Chemical and Engineering News takes a look at the chemistry involved. View the full graphic on the C&EN site.
Hanging in the wardrobes of our flat, alongside our clothes, are a couple of small bags of dried lavender. Like many others, we keep them there to ward off clothes moths, but while offhandedly discussing this a couple of weeks ago I realised that I had absolutely no idea if there was scientific evidence to back up this repellent effect. So, I did what any good scientist would, and started a quest to find out whether lavender’s anti-moth powers were the real deal, or as scientifically holey as the moth-eaten clothes it claims to ward against!
Usually, you’d want to stay as far away as possible from a smell described variously as like ‘dead rat’, ‘mouldy bath mat’, or ‘cabbages and death’. However, the residents of Cambridge, UK, have been flocking to the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens over the past two days to sample this unpleasant sounding aroma for themselves. The explanation lies in the source of the smell: the rare occurrence of a Titan Arum plant flowering.
As the bin in your kitchen slowly fills up, it also cranks up the stench, to the point where you have to hold your breath every time you open it. Nothing you put in it smelled that bad so where does this horrendous odour come from? In this graphic we take a look at some of the chemical compounds offending your nostrils, and how they got there.