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Why Do Some CDRs Smell Like Almonds?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the seeking-the-chemical-details dept.

Hardware 65

bertok asks: "I have several spindles of CD-Rs of various brands that I use at home and work, and some of them have a very strong almond odour when opened. Does anyone know what causes that? I know that Hydrogen Cyanide has a distinctive almond odour, but so does a range of other organic chemicals. Can any Slashdot readers with a chemistry background enlighten us as to the possible source of the smell?"

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You are kidding right? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637528)

This is just another April fools right?

mmmm, cynanide laced CDs.

Those evil terrorists!

You ARE kidding right?

The smell is definitely real (2, Informative)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 11 years ago | (#5639603)

No, I've actually wondered the same thing myself for a while (though it's possible that Taco thought it was bogus and would be a great post to use as April 1 material).

When I open a new, shrinkwrapped (and therefore sealed) spindle of CDs, most brands have a strong smell that is very similar to that of almonds. It goes away if you leave the thing open for a while, but if you seal a spindle for a while, you can smell it a bit when you open it later. (Presumably, the scent is coming from some sort of decomposition going on in the CD, then, rather than just gas from the manufacturing process). I usually a use a variety of generic not-very-intense blue CDRs. I don't remember smelling almonds with the old gold CDRs I used to use, though it's possible that I just didn't notice. I've certainly never noticed it with silver pressed audio CDs. My CDRs are kept in clear spindles (in sunlight) -- I vaguely remember that sunlight tended to have some sort of impact on CDRs, so it may be that it simply doesn't affect people who keep them in those black binders.

I also remembered the "cyanide smells like almonds" tidbit, and wondered if that might have something to do with it, but some chem people here have said that phalocyanine (or whatever the stuff is) is quite different and doesn't have an odor.

But, yes, I can vouch that this is definitely fact, not an April 1 joke.

In Soviet Russia (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637529)

In Soviet Russia CDRS smells like YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637850)

They smell like Vodka!

Also.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637535)

I've always wondered why my semen, sometimes, smells like turkey.

Re:Also.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637564)

If it also tastes like turkey, you will have no problems with woman anymore. But yourself.
See here [keenspace.com]

It's a plot... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637542)

..by the media industry to slowly poison all the people who "steal" music ;-)

The flaw in their plan is that sales still won't go up cos they've just killed potential consumers!

A suggestion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637548)

Try taking a shower, you dirty RMS smell-alike. Jesus Christ, your family needs noseplugs just to get anywhere near you. Your lust for GNU/Linux is quite obvious by the odor that spills out of your sweaty little pansy-ass body. Try using soap, a shower, and a real operating system.

Austin Powers 2! (4, Funny)

kruetz (642175) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637560)

Does anyone else have flashbacks to Austin Powers 2, when the assassin Achmed (or some similar Arabian name) falls over the edge of the cliff...


Aaah! My leg is broken! The bone is sticking through the skin, and the wound is smelling of almonds, which is not good!

I'll try to stand on my other leg ... aah! now my other legs is broken!


To summarise, don't touch CDRs that smell of almonds. They are "not good". In fact, they will probably break your legs and cause you tremendous pain.

Thank God we can learn everything we need to know from the movies.

Re:Austin Powers 2! (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637624)

Disturbingly there is actually a small ammount of logic in that statement.

Proof that given a sufficent lack of context, anything can be related to anything else.

Re:Austin Powers 2! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5657682)

Fackt: Don't repy to posts by Jelybob or yu will mke tpyos.

Re:Austin Powers 2! (1)

Mr.Phil (128836) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637716)

Mustafa was the assassin's name.

Lacquer (2, Interesting)

AllMightyPaul (553038) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637567)

There is a lacquer on all CD-Rs that has a distinct smell. I don't recall it smelling like almonds though ... I remember it being rather pungent and gross.

because... (4, Funny)

ptaff (165113) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637568)

Because CD-R, like almonds, get tastier when burned a bit...

Re:because... (2, Funny)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 11 years ago | (#5640170)

Holy crap, you're right! They even TASTE like almonds, only crunchier! Oh man this makes a great snack food. Whoa ... not feeling so good all of a sudden ...

Simple (2)

unhooked (21010) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637573)

It's a plot by the RIAA to finally rid themselves
of those troublesome pirates.

I BELIEVE YOU! (2, Funny)

falcon203e (589344) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637587)

My TDK CD-Rs smell like almonds! Thank goodness I'm not the only one to wonder about this! Have you also noticed that, once burned, the smell goes away. Magic disappearing almonds...

When did april's fools day mean stupid day? (0, Troll)

GiMP (10923) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637588)

This is just stupid. Either slashdot is further down the tube than I thought, or someone thought that April fool's day was a good day to post meaningless drivel.

Re:When did april's fools day mean stupid day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637646)

Both are true.

Re:When did april's fools day mean stupid day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5639650)

Either slashdot is further down the tube than I thought, or someone thought that April fool's day was a good day to post meaningless drivel.

Oh, the latter, definitely. Take a look at your post, for instance.

More to the point.... (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637657)

...one might ask why *almonds* smell like
almonds. And people *eat* that stuff!

Re:More to the point.... (2, Funny)

mattsucks (541950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5638361)

[qouth the Mouse]

That's _exactly_ my point. Maybe the machines couldn't figure out what CDRs smell like. Maybe what you think CDRs smell like, really smells like almonds.

OSQ (3, Funny)

Hell O'World (88678) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637677)

My cat's breath smell's like catfood!

Re:OSQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637764)

Funny, so does yours!

Re:OSQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637827)

In case you really don't get it, That is a quote from Ralph Wiggum of the Simpsons. I would have to say that hearing Ralph say that in the episode was MUCH funnier than your come back

Re:OSQ (1)

dingd0ng (660596) | more than 11 years ago | (#5657848)

You choo-choo-choose me? Much funnier.

In Soviet Russia... (-1)

I'm not a script, da (638454) | more than 11 years ago | (#5667090)

...catfood smells like you!

Speaking of nuts ... (4, Funny)

one9nine (526521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637684)

Does anybody's wireless router smell like peanut butter? Maybe it's just me.

Re:Speaking of nuts ... (2, Funny)

Mr.Phil (128836) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637733)

My VCR smelled like peanut butter, until I found the sandwitch that my niece had tried to "play."

Re:Speaking of nuts ... (1)

AssFace (118098) | more than 11 years ago | (#5638048)

I tried to "play" a sandwhich once.
After 3 hours of painful surgery, the doctor made his point and I haven't thought of trying that again.
I hope your niece learned her lesson too.

I also hope she didn't get the nasty infection that I did.

Re:Speaking of nuts ... (1)

penguin_punk (66721) | more than 11 years ago | (#5641028)

Not peanut butter, but if it smells like burnt peanuts, then it's most likely a blown capacitor. Burnt peanuts smell nothing like peanut butter, so I don't think you should be in a hurry to open 'er up. but you never know...

my Linksys does (1)

green pizza (159161) | more than 11 years ago | (#5641873)

My linksys router smells like peanut butter, I always figured it was due to the funky plastics. None of my other equipment has a food-like smell.

benzaldehyde (4, Informative)

mpweasel (539631) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637735)

IANAChemist, but the son of one, and my best guess is that it's benzaldehyde left over from the production of the plastic.

http://www.bartleby.com/65/be/benzalde.html
htt p://www.bartleby.com/65/al/aldehyde.html

Cyanide is used (1)

Keefesis (70341) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637748)

I don't have a link to back this up, but I'm sure one of the CDR manufacturer websites can verify this. Cyanide is used as part of the dye in certain CDR's - that would explain the Almond smell.

Re:Cyanide is used (4, Informative)

portege00 (110414) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637853)

It's not CYANIDE, it's CYANINE. Here's some more information on that:

http://www.cdrplanet.com/dye-layer.html

I'm pretty sure its oderless, too.

Phew! (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5638451)

I'd always avoided mixing green and blue on my monitor because I know you can make cyanide from those two colours....

Bazman

Re:Cyanide is used (1)

A55M0NKEY (554964) | more than 11 years ago | (#5644658)

Cyanine.. Hmmm sounds an awful lot like cyanIDE to me. I wouldn't doubt if there were some CN pairs in whatever Cyanine is. It prolly decomposes into cyanide under certain circumstances or maybe over time or when you burn em. If you could find a chemical that decomposes cd's dye into HCN gas then you could use CDRs for an amateur gas chamber.

Re:Cyanide is used (2, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637866)

Cyananine dye is named as such because it is cyan (bluish) in color, not because it is related to cyanide.

My Mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5637926)

...smells like ass...
...and why do I have so much porno in my history log?

Because RIAA wants to kill copiers (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5637960)


Or even CD writers.. All those mass produced without copy protection.. need to be gotten rid of somehow.

There is no cyanide. (4, Informative)

TitaniumFox (467977) | more than 11 years ago | (#5638016)

...and quit spreading misinformation.

Firstly, a cyano group is simply a carbon atom bonded to a nitrogen atom with a triple bond. In the term cyanide, the ide simply identifies the CN as an ion. Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is the colorless, poisonous gas that may, or may not smell like almonds. (Go ahead...smell it.)

The blue dye you are thinking about is called cyanine, which is simply the common name for 1,1-diisoamyl-4,4-cyanine iodide.

If you go here [ogi.edu] , you will see a structure of cyanine. The only nitrogen present in the chemical is firmly rooted in a benzine ring (called pyridine). It's not going anywhere, and there's certainly no cyanide.

Additionally, the other dye used in CDRs is called phthalocyanine. Structure here [ogi.edu] . As you can see, the molecule is circular and the CN groups are in rings and in bonds between the ring structures. No hydrogen cyanide will be evolved.

While this doesn't answer why CDRs smell like almonds after/while they are being burned (do they? I've never smelled that), it does cast away some of the misperceptions.

Re:There is no cyanide. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5654018)

Is 1,1-diisoamyl-4,4-cyanine iodide listed as a natural or artificial flavor?

Re:There is no cyanide. (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 11 years ago | (#5655741)

That was a little harsh, wasn't it? The submitter wasn't stating that the blue dye was HCN; you just read that into his words and got cranky about it. For all you know his CD-Rs aren't even the blue-dye kind. Perhaps you routinely hear some lame urban legend about confusion between HCN and cyanine, but that doesn't mean that everyone who asks about "almonds" and something blue is similarly confused and needs to be chastised as "spreading misinformation".

Re:There is no cyanide. (1)

TitaniumFox (467977) | more than 11 years ago | (#5661543)

Cranky? Heh, heh. Perhaps. Perhaps I had also been in the organic lab quite a bit, in addition to studying for an AdvOrg test. The crankyness wasn't directed towards the submitter of the article, however. The submitter of the article was right on. They asked a rather interesting question, too. The misinformation jibe was most certainly directed towards those who answered incorrectly, making the "It's cyanide" connection and not bothering to back it up or do even the most basic of research behind the question.

As for the non-blue dye. That's entirely possible, which is why I included the alternative dye, phthalocyanine. It's non-blue. It still contains cyano groups.

Cheers!

some cyanide facts... (1)

Hubert_Shrump (256081) | more than 11 years ago | (#5638199)

bartok, checked out your journal entry on kuro5hin - in answer to your question there - bitter almonds are just another variety of almond - with a bit more cyanide than the 'sweet' variety.

you know, being able to smell cyanide is a genetic trait, and that bodies of people poisoned by it smell like bitter almond.

Some almond facts (1)

metamanda (662939) | more than 11 years ago | (#5640867)

Are bitter almonds edible? I've read (in Guns Germs and Steel [amazon.com] if you're interested) that almonds in their pre-domesticated wild form actually have enough cyanide in them to be really poisonous. Domesticating them would have involved somehow finding some mutant almonds that didn't kill you, and breeding them for generations until they got some non-poisonous almond trees that would reliably breed more non-poisonous almond trees. I guess it's not so much that cyanide smells like almonds as that almonds smell like cyanide.

I would hate to be the quality assurance person on the almond domestication project.

Are bitter almonds edible? (1)

Hubert_Shrump (256081) | more than 11 years ago | (#5640930)

I believe you have to extract the cyanide from bitter almonds, or at least de-plenish it in some form.

Most bitter almond extract actually has more scary stuff in it - the gooey inner pits from apricots. Which also has cyanide in it. I guess that makes my favorite dessert something like fugu...

At least we're not taste-testers for the ricin factory...

Cyanide does not smell like almonds (3, Informative)

Muhammar (659468) | more than 11 years ago | (#5638478)

You can smell HCN when you sniff at the bottle with cyanide or cyanoborohydride - it is a bitter, nasty, almnost pyridine-like stink. Sure, cyanide is in bitter almonds and peach inner seeds, it makes part of their flavour.

What you smell is the common almond-food flavor (Dr.Pepper flavor)- benzaldehyde, most likely. They add this stuff into some furniture polish, too.
The other possible, very similar almond-smelling substances are nitrobenzene (poisonous) and benzonitrile.

I think it is some kind of solvent/paint additive which they use for printing the label on the CD, definitely not anything essential for the CD manufacture.

[And, cyanin is a non volatile dye and has nothing to do with cyanide - the name is similar because of the greek word cyanos=blue]

Re:Cyanide does not smell like almonds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5639236)

Dr. Pepper flavor is not "the common almond-food flavor". It's prune flavored.

Re:Cyanide does not smell like almonds (1)

Muhammar (659468) | more than 11 years ago | (#5639342)

And what do you think is the difference between prune - cherry cola - and almond artificial flavour? All of it is benzaldehyde.

You have this almondy flavour naturaly present in these fruits - you can notice it especialy in compots and juices, where the whole fruit is heat-processed - from the almond-like seed in the pit.

Re:Cyanide does not smell like almonds (1)

green pizza (159161) | more than 11 years ago | (#5641921)

almond-food flavor (Dr.Pepper flavor)

Dr Pepper's flavor comes mostly from vanillin, which is similar to, but not quite the same as artifical almond. (We're talking organic chemistry, where a couple moved carbons can turn a safe sweet compound into a deadly poison -- this is why I'm a MechE and not a ChemE major!!). Vanillin is also used to flavor marshmallows.

Dr Pepper does not contain any prune compounds.

Don't get me started on Mr. Pibb......

Re:Cyanide does not smell like almonds (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 11 years ago | (#5656824)

We're talking organic chemistry, where a couple moved carbons can turn a safe sweet compound into a deadly poison -- this is why I'm a MechE and not a ChemE major!!

No shit? I think a couple of missing or rearranged bolts on a bridge would royally fuck things up too. So would rearranging a couple of different resistors on a motherboard. You know, things are usually the way they are for a reason.

Re:Cyanide does not smell like almonds (2, Informative)

grondu (239962) | more than 11 years ago | (#5642130)

Sure, cyanide is in bitter almonds and peach inner seeds, it makes part of their flavour

It's not free cyanide, it's in the compound amygdalin.

From the Poison Information Centre of Singapore [www.gov.sg] : Commonly occurs in the kernels of almonds, apricots, cherries, peaches, apples, as well as the stems, leaves and roots of many rose (Rosaceae) family species.. A cyanogenic glycoside compound. It is known that the hydrolysis of amygdalin can give rise to hydrogen cyanide.

Normally, the presence of amygdalin alone in these kernels is not dangerous It is only in the crushed, moistened seed which releases an enzyme can the hydrolysis of amygdalin be effected.

Acute intoxication and death had been reported in children following ingestion of apricot seeds which are capable of releasing 217mg of cyanide per 100 g of moist seeds.

Re:Cyanide does not smell like almonds (1)

grondu (239962) | more than 11 years ago | (#5642137)

benzonitrile

I always thought benzonitrile smelled like Dentyne chewing gum.

This is the best AF article so far. (2, Funny)

iuyterw (255460) | more than 11 years ago | (#5638925)

I can imagine hundreds of Slashdot readers surreptiously sniffing their CD-Rs at work, little knowing that their bosses have just stepped up behind them.

boss: What the hell are you doing?!?!
SDR: Ummm..Err..Uh..Quality control.
boss: Oh...Very well. Carry on then.

What a coincidence (1)

Ledge (24267) | more than 11 years ago | (#5639288)

I was just about to post an Ask Slashdot about a bag of nuts that I got last night that smelled like freshly burnt CD-R's.

cyanide (1)

austad (22163) | more than 11 years ago | (#5639522)

I read something awhile back about the almond scent of cyanide. Apparently, only women can smell it, but not all women, only like 50% or so.

Weird.

I love the smell (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 11 years ago | (#5640009)

I love the smell of 100-CDR-spindles in the morning.

It smells like victory.

Re:I love the smell (1)

zerOnIne (128186) | more than 11 years ago | (#5641158)

only if you're launching them at your foes in excess of 300MPH ... hm, that gives me an idea for AOL CDs ...

Princo CD's (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5640126)

What brands of CD's have you noticed this odour in. I have a bunch of "Princo" CD's that have a distinct chemical smell, which could be said to be similar to almonds I suppose.

Why do some farts smell like dead animals? (1)

56ksucks (516942) | more than 11 years ago | (#5640208)

"I have let serveral farts of various loudness at home and work, and some of them have a very strong dead animal odour when expelled. Does anyone know what causes that? I know that crap has a distinctive dead animal odour, but so does a range of other organic chemicals. Can any Slashdot readers with a chemistry background enlighten us as to the possible source of the smell?"

Ok, Now post this as a /. topic.

Re:Why do some farts smell like dead animals? (1)

cinc (207139) | more than 11 years ago | (#5640901)

If you would stop gerbiling you wouldnt have that problem

mine smell like.. (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 11 years ago | (#5641204)

coconuts seroiusly.. kinda like tanning lotion or a nice massage oil. For a romantic night i just open up a fresh spindle and light some candles, then do some cd burning...

It's the paint not the disc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5644167)

I've had regular discs smell like this before I started getting cdrs. It's the colored paint on the top of the cd that you smell and some different color paints smell differently.

Hey (1)

Mycx (663588) | more than 11 years ago | (#5653425)

No he is not kidding. I also have 4 spindles of Memorex cds and they smell marsipan cake (don't know if it is the right translation). I'm pretty sure it is that because i don't like marsipan cake ;)
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