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January 28, 2013
Asking the Hard Questions
Well, it is a hard question, and I don't know the answer, either. On Twitter, See Arr Oh wonders:
Know that tangy smell that LAH / NaH give off? Is that oil volatiles, or trace H2 being formed from room moisture?
I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to bet that hydrogen has no smell at all - it would seem too small and too bereft of interactions to see off the nasal receptors. So my guess is mineral oil constituents in the case of sodium hydride, which I usually handle as the dispersion. Now, the lithium aluminum hydride is a dry powder, so in that case, I'd say that I'm smelling the real stuff, which can't be improving my nose very much. That lines up with Chemjobber's explanation: "It's the smell of your nose hairs being deprotonated." Any other guesses?
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