When you talk about the smell of gasoline, you’re talking about a very distinctive smell that we all know. For some, it is a smell that they love. Is that weird? What should you do when you smell gas? Can smelling gasoline be extremely hazardous to your health? We have the information you need!
Is It Normal To Like The Smell Of Gasoline?
Perhaps you love the smell of gasoline. When you go the fill up the car, and you get a whiff of the gas, you get happy. You may even have stored a wonderful childhood memory associated with the smell of gasoline. So, is it normal to like the smell of gasoline? Absolutely. The only issue we would have with you loving the smell, is if you like to sniff it on a regular basis. We would then recommend that you reach out for help.
For many, it’s not the smell of gasoline that many enjoy, but rather the nostalgia behind it. Do you think about Dad pouring gas into the lawn mower on Saturdays, and then cutting the grass, as you ran around playing outside? Do you remember Grandpa pouring gas into the snow thrower as you helped shovel the snow? Those memories are ones that we cling to for a lifetime.
“OK- But What in the Gasoline Makes it Smell So Good?”
There is an ingredient in gas that gives it that “sweet smell” most of us know and love. According to research, gasoline gets that sweet and distinctive smell from benzene. This is an ingredient that helps to increase the octane levels in gasoline, while improving fuel efficiency. Benzene is quite detectable with our noses- even in small quantities. Additional research supports findings that benzene was actually an ingredient that was found in an array of feminine hygiene products as well as aftershaves.
For many of us, the smell of gas triggers some sort of happiness or a great feeling. Most of us enjoy the smell and then we think of some sort of positive experience after getting that whiff at the gas pump.
“Sometimes I Smell Gas But There’s None Around Me. Why Do I Smell Gas When There Is None?”
Have you ever been going about your day, and you smell a smell that is nowhere to be found? Sometimes, we smell things that are not around us-gasoline is one of them. There is a scientific explanation for this. There is a condition that is called Phantosmia. While it is a condition that is known to bring about certain hallucinations, you don’t need to run to a doctor for treatment- unless you are smelling smells of items that are nowhere to be found, on a regular basis. Sometimes, there are folks who have this condition, that believe they smell certain smells. Some of the most common smells associated with Phantosmia include the smell of:
- “burnt toast”
- natural gas
- dirt and other smells.
Certain people with Phantosmia are smelling things when the smell does not exist. There may be an underlying medical issue causing this. Certain medical conditions such as tumors in the brain, seizures, and even Parkinson’s disease, can cause Phantosmia. You may find that you no longer smell the smell you are smelling after some time has passed. If you are smelling gas and there is no gas present, you may need to first ensure that there are no gas smells around you. Then, it may be to your benefit to visit a doctor, ensuring there is no underlying medical issue. Phantom smells may come and go. But if yours lingers, then have it checked out by a medical professional.
“OK- My Car Is Smelling Like Gas. What Are The Reasons For This?”
If you are sure that your car is smelling like gas, then let’s take a look at a few reasons for the smell.
Mishap At The Gas Pump
Sometimes, when you smell gas near or on your car, there is no single problem with your car. When you go to a pump to refuel, you may find that the pump shut-off component isn't working correctly. It’s so important to stay with your car as you fuel up. You don’t want to walk back into the gas station for a pack of gum, or go back and sit in your car, as you are filling up. If the fuel pump fails to shut off once the tank is full, fuel could overflow and run down the side of your car.
So, now, you will be smelling gas and you will probably be smelling it all day! Should you smell gas just after you fill up, you want to make sure that the tank didn’t overflow. Did it overflow? Then if you can get some paper towels from that center garbage can/ paper towel dispenser at the gas station, and wipe the excess gas up. While a little gas dripping from the vehicle’s body panels isn't harmful, you don’t want large amounts of gas running down your car.
Your Fuel Filler Cap is Busted
You have to have a working and sturdy fuel cap on your vehicle. Why is it so important to have a good one? Your fuel filler cap keeps the gasoline vapors at bay. So, if the seal is broken, or it is worn, then those vapors can escape from your vehicle’s gasoline tank. Then, you will be able to smell gas when you are sitting at a light to turn or when you are exiting out of your car. So, if you have a broken fuel filler pump, get it a replacement ASAP!
There’s a Gasoline Leak Present
The third reason you may be smelling gas near your car, is due to fuel lines, or a leaking gasoline tank. Both can create a dangerous situation for you. You may have gas dripping from under your car and that is not safe for you at all. So, get a professional to help you check for any leaking gas anywhere- and do it ASAP!
“But what if I don’t have a leak and I still smell gas?”
But what if you smell gas and you see no visible leaks? Then you may have a gas leak that is a bit higher in your engine. You may have a fuel injector that is leaking. Or, you may have cracked or fractured engine seals.
You certainly don’t want to wait to get any potential leak evaluated. If there is gasoline located on the outside of a very hot engine your car could combust and start a fire that damages engine. If you think that your car has a gasoline leakage somewhere, PLEASE get to a mechanic or an auto professional ASAP. Your life could be at stake- and that is most important!
Gasoline is an explosive as well as volatile chemical. Any vehicle that is leaking gas is not safe to drive. So, call a mobile mechanic or your nearest auto shop and share the situation with them. Do you have road assistance? Call them as well and follow their directions. You can even call a tow truck company and make arrangements to have your car towed to the nearest auto shop.
You Have a Rich Running Engine
The air and fuel mixture that a vehicle’s engine combusts for the generation of power, has to be at a precise AND correct ratio for maximum performance and efficiency. So, if you have an issue with your engine, then the car’s fuel ratio could potentially be thrown off. If your vehicle’s engine is adding too much fuel while limited amounts of air are coming in during combustion, that unused gasoline vapor will be expelled as excessive exhaust. Then, you will have blackish- gray smoke. You will also have a strong smell of gasoline.
Can The Smell Of Gasoline Kill You?
Let’s get right down to it. Smelling gas as you fill up is one thing. Going into a garage or shed and opening up gasoline to smell it is another. While it may not seem harmless and smell sweet, gas is very toxic and is a VERY flammable liquid. If it’s at room temperature, gasoline is generally has no color- or can be very “pale-ish” brown or pink color.
Gas also has about 150 chemicals in it. Its most primary compounds are the benzene we spoke of that gives it that “sweet smell”- as well as several hydrocarbons too. Even in the smallest of quantities, hydrocarbons can enter into the bloodstream, and then reduce the operation of a person’s CNS or central nervous system.
Prolonged exposure can cause organ damage and failure. Gasoline can be toxic to the skin, eyes and even lungs too. When someone burns gasoline, a huge amount of carbon monoxide is released. You probably know carbon monoxide dangers, from smoke detector warnings. As firefighters and other officials tell you, carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, that can kill. Each year, you hear of folks dying of carbon monoxide poisoning.
PLEASE GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
While it’s one instance to smell gasoline and enjoy it as you are filling up at the pump, sniffing it on a regular basis can prove to be fatal. Please reach out for the help you need, if you are sniffing gasoline on a regular basis. Sniffing gas is called inhalant abuse. WE CARE ABOUT YOU. Additionally, there are trained individuals who can help you. Contact:
- Recovery Village- 855-826-9229. Click here to connect.
- American Addiction Centers- (866) 251-7453. Click here to connect.
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Click here to connect.