Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Anyone for gas?


IanA
 Share

Recommended Posts

I recently visited the Ijzer Tower in Diksmuide where amongst the many exhibits there is an invitation to get your own personal whiff of chlorine and mustard gas. Now, as a boy I spent many happy hours making noxious smells with my chemistry set and know exactly what real chlorine smells like and this appeared to be real chlorine. I'm afraid I wimped out of trying the mustard gas - as the old song says: "Phosgene and mustard gas are much too much for me!"

Does anyone know what is in these exhibits?

Ypres2007032.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Health and safety being what they are, I doubt if they are what they say they are. Phosgene was supposed to smell like new mown hay, so that one is likely the contents of the curator's grass box. Seriously, I think they will be chemicals which smell similar. We have a couple of chemists on forum perhaps they know?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As said obviously not the real thing - there are lots of companies that re-create authentic smells for museums etc. I have a small bottle bought from Eden Camp that recretes a Naffi hut smell from the Second WW. At the IWM the trench recreation has bacon frying amongst other things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah. It definitely wont be the real thing. European Health and Safety Officials would have a field day with that! I also have a few wee bottles of recreated smells from Eden Camp. Absolutely vile...one of my worst purchases. Places like Jorvik Viking Museum have "authentic" smells too. I have no idea how they manage it, where are our forum scientists when we need them?

Lynz :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

where are our forum scientists when we need them?

Lynz :lol:

Wondering how they do it too - or at least I am!

Adrian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 'chlorine' one convinced me. It had that sharp feeling at the back of the throat which you get with the real gas. There are a lot of duds lying around - I reckon the curator tops his exhibit up every week from a couple of duds round the back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember the smell of chlorine from the local swimming baths when I was a child. I wonder if a strong whiff of ozone would smell fairly similar. I don't know if you can bottle ozone but I remember machines in offices making it with a big spark.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I remember my chemistry correctly, ozone is poisonous. An electrical spark would, of course, generate tiny quantities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I smell genuine chlorine frequently as I make it for experiments at school. Unmistakable smell!

You used to be able to make your own personal phosgene by inhaling everyday chemicals through a cigarette. Can't do it since the Montreal protocol came into effect.

Nigel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

where are our forum scientists when we need them?

Also wondering how it was done!

As others have said/implied, chlorine is pretty easy to do :) My local drinking water often smells of it!

Phosgene, hmmm... My guess is that someone looked at the structure, then went digging through the rubber handbook for similar compounds, then did a lot of research into 1) whether things died after being exposed and 2) what the safe compounds smelled like. There are several functional groups with well-known aromas, such as amines (smell like old fish), and no doubt specialists in the field (which I never was) would be aware of many more.

Ailsa

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all

making chlorine is very simple, standard lab prep is adding hydrochloric acid to potassium permaginate. even in small doses it will catch on the back of your throat. iodine has a very similar smell (as does bromine but this is very poisonous) so it might be a little bit of iodine which will sublime into a gas at room temp and pressure and as iodine is used pre op for cleaning the wounds it must be less harmfull than the other 2. then again maybe a bottle of swimming pool water!! as for the mustard gas, no idea.

Ken

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We, and I include myself here, have got our wires a little crossed. Phosgene is not mustard gas. Mustard gas was a heavy oily liquid which sublimated when warm and preferentially attacked moist warm tissue. Being a liquid, it could remain effective for days and even weeks. Its action was to burn and blister. Obviously if breathed in, it would attack the mucous membranes of the throat and lungs. You would not have been exposed in the museum to this, in any dosage. It is one of the gas fillings which is still dangerous in the field.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed, as above Phosgene and Mustard gas are two entirely different things. I am afraid my chemistry ended at O level but the link below makes fascinating reading on all aspects of this evil stuff. As well as likening the smell to mustard it also suggests, onions, garlic and horseradish - bit safer than the real thing...

Some excerpts:

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp49.html

mus1.jpg

mus2.jpg

mus3.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So Ian, it looks as though this was all a veggie scam. A bucket of swimming pool water, a handful of lawn clippings and a squashed clove of garlic. Demand your money back!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I care not for stultified reality. I still prefer the weekly spoonful of 'syrup' from the old shells round the back theory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...