Natural Gas Term of the Week: Odorant

What it means: Any material added to natural or LP gas in small concentrations to impart a distinctive odor. Odorants in common use include various mercaptans and organic sulfides.

See it in action: That rotten egg smell when natural gas is present isn’t actually the gas at all.  Natural gas is odorless, so special additives, typically a naturally occurring substance called mercaptan, are inserted into the gas transmission system to ensure you know when gas is around.

That smell is unpleasant on purpose, if you catch a whiff call your utility, it may indicate a gas leak. NW Natural has a good overview of what steps you should take if that rotten egg smell catches your attention.


Want natural gas that smells a little better?  You won’t find it in your home, since that odor serves an important purpose. However, the Volcano at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas strips out the odorants in the gas that powers their nightly shows, and replaces it with something a little more festive…the smell of Pina Coladas.

A Natural Gas Term of the Week is posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.  Follow the NWGA on Twitter @Ben_at_NWGA