Does Propane Smell? No…and Yes! Alright, so we need to give you an explanation.
Propane has no Natural Smell
Propane, in its natural, elemental state, does not have odor or color. Since we don’t like unplanned explosions, when you can’t see or smell propane we have a problem because you would need special equipment to detect a leak. Since none of us likes the idea of going “boom,” we don’t like the idea propane could be leaking without anyone knowing about it.
Propane Gets a Good “Stench”
To decrease our chances of going “BOOM,” propane manufacturers add ethyl mercaptan as the propane leaves the main storage terminals through a process sometimes called “stenching.” Ethyl mercaptan is the industry standard for a propane odor additive to give people a warning sign that you may have a leak. If you are wondering, ethyl mercaptan kind of smells like rotting cabbage (and no, I am not talking about sauer kraut, I mean really rotting cabbage).
Does Propane Always Stink the Same?
Interestingly enough, no, propane might not always stink the same. You can have issues with your tank or lines or other issues that causes your propane to lose the intensity of the stench. That is why it is important to take care of a leak no matter how strongly you smell the ethyl mercaptan. A barely noticeable smell can be a warning of a significant leak! There are times that you might get a stronger smell too, normally when the tank is getting really low. The real lesson here is that if you smell any leak, treat it like a big leak and stay SAFE!