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Electrolysed finger smell

In an aerosol
  [vote for,

If you have one of those plasma spheres (the glass balls which make spidery electric arcs), and you hold your finger against it for a few moments, your finger will then smell funny. The smell is not of burnt flesh, but is more like metal vapour/ ozoney smell - it's vaguely like the smell you sometimes get when you break an old radio valve.

Whatever it is, it's remarkable and oddly pleasant. Very difficult to explain unless you try it yourself. It's sort of clean and fresh but also oddly organic and reassuring.

I'd like to see this strange smell analysed, and made available as an aerosol room freshener. I couldn't find a "smell" category, but suggestions welcome.

MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 07 2007

smell category under product http://www.halfbake.../Product_3a_20Smell
[xandram, Oct 07 2007]

What does Ozone smell like? http://mmd.foxtail..../2002.07.26.08.html
I think that's what you're smelling. [jutta, Oct 07 2007]


       I never thought to smell my fingers after playing with my balls. But I shall try it next time.
Ling, Oct 07 2007

       Oh dear.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 07 2007

       I think it's the same smell as the inside of old cased UV lamps for erasing EPROMS.   

       BTW, don't sniff it too much, Ozone is toxic.   

       Nice site, Jutta.
Dub, Oct 07 2007

       [Jutta] thanks for the link (and for finding the right category - I missed it). I'm not completely convinced that the smell is ozone (it seems more metally, somehow, than the linked description), but it may well be.   

       Actually, I guess it probably is. I tried holding various conductive objects against the plasma sphere, and each produced the same smell (so, it's not dependent on the composition of the thing being zapped). Whatever it is must come either from the air or possibly from the glass.   

       Maybe it's some nitrogen compound (from atmospheric nitrogen). Allegedly, lightning creates nitrogen compounds.   

       What is strange is the way the smell seems to stick to whatever is held against the plasma sphere. Try it if you have one to hand.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 07 2007

       Ozone is probably sticky, because it is reactive. I would think that whatever it stuck to would smell like oxidized thing, but that does not seem to be the case. I have an old teslacoil that was once part of an ozone generator (1930s health device I believe) and although it makes a very strong ozone smell, nothing smells burnt.
bungston, Oct 08 2007

       Yes - and you can even draw a small arc between your finger and the sphere directly.   

       My understanding is that the inner and outer faces of the glass act like a very small capacitance; the electrode in the centre is oscillating at very high frequency. Therefore, a small high-frequency AC can in effect pass through the glass (ie, across the capacitor), allowing the arc.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2010


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