The inside story on flatulence

Because I know that you want to know. Excerpt from the latest book by the always wonderful Mary Roach.

Curious as to which olfactory notes the different sulfur gases contributed to the overall bouquet of flatus, Levitt purchased samples of the three gases from a chemical supply house. The judges agreed on the following descriptors: “rotten eggs” for hydrogen sulfide, the gas with the strongest correlation to stink; “decomposing vegetables” for methanethiol; and “sweet” for dimethyl sulfide. Though lesser players like methylmercaptan contribute as well, it is for the most part these three notes, in subtly shifting combinations and percentages, that create the infinite olfactory variety of human flatus. To quote Alan Kligerman, “A gas smell is as characteristic of a person as a fingerprint is.” But harder to dust for.



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