Coins don't smell, you do

Coins.Ever wondered what is causing the musty, “metallic” odor you smell after handling coins or touching metal objects? It’s all due to a type of human body odor.

A new study finds that the smell of iron is, ironically, a type of human body odor, created by the breakdown of oils in skin after touching objects that contain the element.

"That we are smelling the metal itself is actually an illusion," said study team member Dietmar Glindemann of the University of Leipzig in Germany.

Scientists think it works like this: When touching objects made of iron, perspiration from skin causes the iron atoms to gain two electrons. The doubly negative iron atoms react with oil in skin, causing them to decompose, forming 1-octen-2-one.

Because blood contains iron, rubbing blood over skin produces a similar metallic smell, the researchers said.

"That humans can 'smell' iron can be interpreted as a sense for the smell of blood," Glindemann said.

Link: LiveScience via A Welsh View
Image: Thomas Hawk
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Veron said…
Eww... I knew there was something fishy about that smell. Imagine this: If you have some really old coins that date back several decades, they would reek of sweat from people who probably have already died. Okay just a silly random thought of mine but it's certainly not a pleasant one!
Spluch said…
Maybe someone should come up with a coin disinfectant or autoclaving machine!