Objective

To test if deuterated methanol, acetone, chloroform and benzene can be distinguished by smell.

Procedure

Three vials were labeled methanol, 1A and 1B. Vials labeled methanol and one of the numbered vial were charged with methanol (500uL) and the other
was charged with CD3OD (500uL). Similarly acetone, benzene and chloroform were also charged in three vials each. Volunteers were asked to carefully sniff the vials labeled with the solvent names on them and then the corresponding vials with same solvent and its deuterated version. They were then asked to pick out the numbered vial which had the same odor as the solvent vial.

Results

Vial with solvents
Vial label
Solvent
#1
(m)

#2
(f)

#3
(m)
#4
(m)
#5
(m)
Methanol
methanol
--
--
--
--

1A
CH3OH
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
x
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png

1B
CD3OD
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
x
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png

Acetone
CH3COCH3
--
--
--
--

2A
CH3COCH3
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
x
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png

2B
CD3COCD3
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
x
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png

DMSO
CH3SOCH3
--
--
--
--

3A
CD3SOCD3
--
--
--
--

3B
CH3SOCH3
--
--
--
--

benzene
C6H6
--
--
--
--

4A
C6D6
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
x
x

4B
C6H6
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
x
x

CHCl3
CHCl3
--
--
--
--

5A
CDCl3
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
x
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png

5B
CHCl3
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
x
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png
external image 23px-Yes_check.svg.png

  • A green check mark indicates a correct identification and a red x mark indicates an incorrect identification.
  • DMSO and DMSO-d6 were discarded due to lack of a discernible odor.
  • m - male volunteer; f - female volunteer

Discussion

Acetone and methanol had strong differences from their deuterated versions while benzene and chloroform did not. [JCB]

Conclusion

In retrospect using a discrimination test with so few choices and participants will yield a lot of accidentally correct selections. From qualitative feedback several volunteers reported significant differences in the smell of some deuterated solvents only.

Log

2009-04-11

14:20 Labeled ten vials 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, ...5A, 5B.
14:40 Pipetted out solvents in the vials (see results table for the solvents and vials), parafilmed the vials.
15:04 Obtained a picture of the vials.

2009-04-13

12:40 Vials labeled with five solvent names were made and then a small volume (~1mL) of each solvent was pipetted out in to respective vials.
13:00 First volunteer performs the odor testing. - Male
13:10 Second volunteer performs the odor testing - Female

2009-04-14

15:00 Third volunteer performs the odor testing. - Male
17:40 Fourth volunteer performs the odor testing. - Male