What Chemical Is Added To Natural Gas?

Natural gas is colorless and odorless in its natural state. The chemical Mercaptan is added to natural gas to make it easier to identify if there is a leak. The most crucial fact to remember about mercaptan is that it stinks. It has been compared to the odor of rotting eggs by others.

Its odor is almost intolerable in concentrated form. It just needs a few parts per million of mercaptan to smell natural gas. That is why it is included in natural gas. If we didn’t add mercaptan, it would be difficult to tell if your stove was emitting unlit natural gas after you left the valve turned on. Without pricey technology, leakage from furnaces and hot water heaters would be practically difficult to detect. As a result, the odor of mercaptan is a highly important safety feature.

Sulfur is found in mercaptans. That’s what causes them to stink. The type we use combines well with natural gas and has many of the same qualities as natural gas in a gaseous form, so it will rise and disperse with natural gas.

Mercaptans are also used in industry for jet fuel, medicines, and livestock feed additives. They’re found in a lot of chemical factories. Similar sulfur compounds found naturally in rotten eggs, onions, garlic, skunks, and, of course, terrible breath are less corrosive and poisonous than mercaptans. In other words, mercaptan can be found in odorous substances.

What is the odor of natural gas that has been added?

17 FEBRUARY 2015 On March 18, 1937, a gas explosion in a New London, Texas, school killed about 300 of the 500 children and 40 teachers inside. The spanking new steel-and-concrete school, which was built in the East Texas Oilfield, was one of the country’s wealthiest. Despite this, it was reduced to ruins in part due to the fact that no one could smell the danger growing in the basement. While the facility was initially constructed for a separate heat distribution system, school officials had recently approved tapping into the local Parade Gasoline Company’s residual gas line, a standard money-saving measure in the oilfield at the time. Unfortunately, the gas (methane mixed with certain liquid hydrocarbons) leaked into a closed compartment beneath the structure on that March afternoon due to a defective pipe connection. When a maintenance worker switched on an electric sander just before class ended, the odorless gas ignited. The structure collapsed as a result of the explosion, burying the victims. (Watch a video of a news clip from March 1937 covering the event.) A gas leak could be detected in advance by its odor, according to current norms. The odorless gas that caused the New London accident was allowed to build up in the space before anyone noticed. As a result of this occurrence, a Texas statute required malodorants to be added to all natural gas used for commercial and industrial purposes, a procedure that is now industry standard. The rotting egg stench is caused by Mercaptan, a non-toxic substance. It’s added to natural gas to make it more easily identifiable and to avoid accidents like these. Derwin Daniels began his career as a firefighter in Beaumont, Texas, where he worked for the same fire department that responded to the 1937 explosion many years earlier. His personal connection to this catastrophe spurred an interest in pursuing a career in disaster management and fire protection technology.

What additives are used to make natural gas safer?

Natural gas is almost completely made up of methane, with small amounts of ethane, propane, butane, and pentane thrown in for good measure. Methane is made up of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms in a molecule. Natural gas is colorless, non-toxic, invisible, and odorless, yet all natural gas carried in Connecticut has an odorant added to it. This odorant, known as mercaptan, is a crucial safety safeguard since it emits a characteristic odor (similar to rotten eggs) in the event of a gas leak.

What is the mercaptan content of natural gas?

Mercaptan, also known as methanethiol, is a non-toxic yet pungent-smelling gas that has been compared to the smell of rotting cabbages or stinky socks. To make natural gas, which is colorless and odorless, easier to detect, it is frequently added.

To identify leaks, what is added to natural gas?

If you have gas appliances in your house or company, these items are connected to a natural gas pipeline.

Because natural gas has no odor, we use an odorant called Mercaptan to help us discover a leak.

It’s possible that you’re smelling sulfur or rotten eggs, which could signal a gas leak.

  • 2.Do not utilize electronic equipment, such as light switches or garage door openers, as you leave. Never use a cell phone or a land line phone near a possible leak. The gas can be ignited by even the faintest spark.

Consider making an emergency contact list that includes the emergency number for your local gas company if you have gas appliances or other fuel-burning appliances in your home. Visit www.ready.gov for more information on how to make an emergency contact list or an emergency plan for your home or company.

To monitor and avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, consider installing a carbon monoxide detector. To learn more about how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Outside your home or business, if you anticipate a problem with a pipeline or aboveground equipment, such as gas meters, evacuate the area immediately in an upwind direction. Call 911 and the pipeline operator from a safe area. Vehicles, mechanical equipment, cell phones, electronic gadgets, and any other object that could cause a spark should not be operated near a suspected leak. Do not light a cigarette or a match. Avoid coming into contact with any liquids or gases that may be present in the pipeline. If you live or work near a pipeline, include the pipeline operator’s name and emergency phone number to your emergency contact list. Make a note of the permanent pipeline markers that are placed along the pipeline’s general route. The operator’s name, emergency phone number, and a description of the substance conveyed are usually included on pipeline markings.

Is mercaptan poisonous?

Mercaptan is a poisonous and combustible gas. It has an effect on the neurological system at high levels. The odorant must be handled properly at all times.

Who gave natural gas its odor?

During the 1880s, the first odorization (adding an odorant to gas so that it may be detected by scent) took place in Germany. In that case, Von Quaglio purposefully added ethyl mercaptan to water gas to mimic the gassy stench of town gas in order to make it identifiable.

Unfortunately, the accident in New London, Texas was the catalyst for widespread odorization.

What is the odor of mercaptan?

Despite the fact that natural gas isn’t harmful, a leak raises the risk of fire or combustion, thus it’s critical to identify the gas and locate the source so that proper safety precautions may be taken.

Rotten Egg Smell

Mercaptan is a natural gas additive that has a smell akin to rotting eggs or cabbage. You may have a natural gas leak if you detect this stench in your home. If you notice a faint, similar odor coming from the bathroom, you may have a different issue.

A damaged toilet seal or an underused drain line might allow sewer gas into your home. Contact a plumber to diagnose a sewer gas issue in the bathroom.

Continuous Bubbling in Standing Water

There could be a leak in your outside gas line if standing water outside your home is bubbling. This is caused by water dissolving the leaking natural gas, causing visible bubbles.

Roaring or Hissing Sound

When natural gas escapes from a leaking pipe, it might hiss gently or roar loudly. The source of the leak is usually the natural gas connection at the rear of an appliance, and you’ll be able to smell the gas leaking indoors.

Dead Plants

Dead or withering plants could indicate a problem if there is a leak in the outside gas line heading to your home. When natural gas escapes into your grass, it deprives the plant’s roots of the oxygen they need to survive. You may have a natural gas leak if you discover dead plants in your yard despite adequate gardening maintenance.

Unnatural Dirt and Air Movement

A leak in your natural gas line might cause an extraordinary volume of air to fly over your yard due to the pressure released. You may have a natural gas leak if there isn’t a significant natural breeze and you witness dirt blowing out of your yard or air blowing across plants.

Health Effects

Despite the fact that natural gas is non-toxic, continuous exposure to its qualities might result in a significant loss in health. As natural gas escapes into your home, it can impair your sense of smell and suffocate oxygen, resulting in breathing problems, headaches, and nausea. There’s a chance you have a gas leak if you’re experiencing these symptoms and don’t have another illness or underlying condition.

What is the odor of LNG?

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a cryogenic liquid that can be stored at temperatures as low as -260F. Because LNG is odorless in its normal condition and does not contain an odorant, it is difficult to detect an LNG leak. This is why electronic methane sensors are used in LNG automobiles and garages to detect leakage. When cold natural gas vapors seep from a car, they are heavier than air and may adhere to the ground or pool, posing a fire hazard as well as an asphyxiation risk in enclosed places. Gas detectors should be positioned near the ground and ceiling in places where the fuel or LNG cars are stored for these reasons. To exhaust any potential leaks, LNG storage or vehicle maintenance facilities should include both floor and ceiling-level ventilation.

LNG-filled tanks, unlike CNG-filled tanks, may periodically leak natural gas if they are left unused for a long time. LNG tanks are normally built to hold a full tank of LNG without venting for a week or more. The LNG continues to evaporate as the fuel warms, and the pressure in the tank rises until the relief valve opens, releasing or “venting” some natural gas. As a result, LNG vehicles should be stored outside or in a facility with adequate ventilation to accommodate any vented LNG safely. To prevent the requirement for venting, LNG should be used in applications where the vehicles are used frequently.

The extremely low temperatures at which LNG is stored is another source of safety concern. Coming into contact with LNG liquid, LNG vapor, or even the cold surfaces of pipelines or tanks containing LNG can cause cryogenic or freeze burns. Despite the fact that LNG refueling lines are well-insulated and designed to prevent inadvertent leaks, anyone working with LNG should be aware of the risks and, if necessary, wear personal protective equipment. LNG fuelling systems and tanks require little maintenance, however they should be checked for leaks and the proper operation of the tank’s pressure gauge and LNG level indicator on a regular basis. More information can be found at:

  • The NFPA 59A Standard for the Production, Storage, and Handling of Liquefied Natural Gas is a set of guidelines for the production, storage, and handling of liquefied natural gas (LNG)

Is methyl mercaptan a cancer-causing substance?

Methyl Mercaptan has not been tested for its ability to cause cancer in animals, according to the information currently available to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

What is the purpose of dimethyl sulfide in natural gas?

Because natural gas is very flammable and odorless, gas distribution firms must follow tight standards to assure its safe use. The most common chemicals added to natural gas are mercaptan compounds, tetrahydrothiophene (THT), and dimethyl sulfide (DMS). Mercaptan is a highly potent odorant due to its sulfuric components and flexibility. Learn more about this fuel additive and how it can help you avoid gas leaks.