Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hydrogen Sulphide

Heaven preserve us from a chemistry lesson by St (O Level grade 7 = fail) but listen here. I remember an experiment at school to make hydrogen sulphide and being told that the resulting gas had the distinctive aroma of rotten eggs. Sometimes Birmingham industry in the 1960s and 70s produced such an odour but lord only knows what they were doing. I remember the early catalytic converters on cars. When you stopped at the traffic lights that smell could be noticed no er, smelled, that's it.

Thing is I had never smelled a rotten egg. When I smell hydrogen sulphide I think that must be what rotten eggs smell like but I've never experienced it coming from an egg or eggs. Until this morning. Cracking my egg for poaching into the boiling water a black heart and grey liquid plopped into the pan and the smell was unmistakably science lab 1969.

Fifty one and three quarter years and I've never had a bad egg. Today was my first. What misfortune have you avoided?


Mel said...

My toast often lands buttered side up.

Mike Peatman said...

It's said that hydrogen sulphide is more toxic than hydrogen cyanide quantity for quantity. Thankfully H2S (as we know it in the trade) is so smelly, it's intolerable before it's toxic; hydrogen cyanide apparently smells of almonds, but you're dead by the time you're enjoying the aroma.

Avoided hardships: I've never had a duff bottle of Chilean wine.