What Does Propane Smell Like?

August 17, 2021 – , ,

Some smells are signals of good times ahead. The smell of baking cookies is inviting, so much so that realtors often use it as a tactic to make prospective homeowners instantly comfortable during house tours.

Some smells are a warning, like the distinctive smell of gasoline where it doesn’t belong. Propane has a similar built-in warning system to keep you safe in the event of a potential emergency. It may not be pleasant, but it’s designed not to be ignored.

We say “designed” because propane is naturally odorless in its unchanged state, so an odorant is added specifically to it so it can be detectable. Since propane should always be safely, completely contained in a cylinder or tank, and piping system, if all is well, you won’t smell a thing.

But if there’s a propane leak, that could lead to trouble, and you need to know about it. So a pungent odorant is added to the fuel in order to sound (or smell) the alarm.

Ethyl Mercaptan is the name of the added scented compound, and people perceive it as rotten — some people say it has a smell like rotten eggs, others say it’s a strong garlic or skunk-like smell.

If you catch a whiff, it’s time to take action.

Make sure any potential spark sources are eliminated. Do not operate any switches in the building, blow out candles, and extinguish any open flames, and don’t use any electrical devices that could create a spark. Leave the building and call your local Paraco propane provider from your cell phone to come to the location and safely assess and address the odor.

Here are some goofy phrases to remember what to do if this smell mysteriously surfaces in your home or business:

“Smells like eggs? Work those legs!”

“Smell of waste, you must make haste”

“Smellin’ rotten? Get to trottin’!”

Any other tagline suggestions? Leave them in the comments!


  1. Alice Carroll on November 1, 2021 at 2:41 am

    Thanks for the reminder that generally, propane smells like eggs. I’d like to get propane services soon in order to have a more efficient heating option for my home. Perhaps it would be best to also change things up in my home to make it a lot safer from possible fire hazards to accommodate this new addition.

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