Why Does Natural Gas Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

A question we hear a lot is, “What does natural gas smell like?” and the answer to that is more complicated than you may think. The question of what gas smells like leads to another — Why does natural gas smell? We’re here to tell you all about this key safety feature.

What Does Natural Gas Smell Like?

If you’ve already had the unpleasant experience of smelling natural gas, then you know the scent is distinct. Natural gas is made to smell a bit like rotten eggs, so if you detect that scent and don’t have any old eggs lying around, it may be a natural leak.

Why Does Natural Gas Smell?

Natural gas is naturally colorless and odorless, making it hard to detect on its own. So, why does natural gas smell so bad? The rotten-egg odor (a chemical odorant called mercaptan) is added to natural gas as a safety feature. Gas leaks are dangerous, so it’s important to be able to detect one. The scent is a key indicator you may have a natural gas leak and has helped many people stay safe in an unsafe situation.

What Makes Natural Gas Dangerous?

Natural gas leaks are rare, but dangerous when they do occur. Natural gas displaces oxygen and makes the air susceptible to ignition near a spark and, in severe cases, can cause asphyxiation. If you’re not sure there’s a leak, you should still leave the premises if you have any suspicions. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

What to Do If You Smell Natural Gas in Your Home

If you detect a natural gas smell in your house, the first and most important thing to do is leave the premises. Once you’re in a safe location, call Atlanta Gas Light at 877.427.4321. You should not look for the source of the leak on your own, wait for a professional to do so safely.

Some people may not be able to detect the scent on their own, fortunately there are other signs of a leak. This acronym can help you remember the signs of a leak and what to do if you suspect one:

Graphic summarizing the information below


Listen for warning signs both inside and outside your home. A faint hiss from your natural gas appliances and/or from the ground outside may signal a larger problem. 

Eyes should watch for discolored flames or excess soot around a pilot light. Outside, look for blowing dirt, dying vegetation, and bubbling water.

Aromas are a great indicator of a natural gas leak, as explained above. If you smell something skunk-, trash-, or rotten egg-like, that may be a sign of a natural gas leak.  

Keep Away! If you smell natural gas in your house, don’t stop to investigate the potential leak yourself. Instead, leave the area immediately. Once you are a safe distance away, place a call to Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) at 877.427.4321.

Save on Natural Gas with SCANA Energy

If you’d like even more natural gas safety tips, along with quality customer service, sign up with SCANA Energy today. It only takes a few minutes to sign up. Call 1.877.467.2262 to schedule a turn on date or start service with SCANA today.

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