Did you know that you can detect over 10,000 different smells, thanks to the 12 million olfactory receptor cells in your nose? Amazing isn’t it, but that is just a fraction compared to the 100 to 300 million receptor cells that dogs have, giving them the ability to distinguish well over 40,000 different smells.
Furthermore, research has proven that smell has the power to affect an individual’s mood, emotions and even memory, so make a point of surrounding yourself with great smells and you will increase your chances of having a happier life without forgetting any great experiences. The sense of smell is one of the basic senses that a human being without any physical or mental challenges should enjoy comfortably, because it is effortless, and can get very exciting.
However, we cannot help but come across some awful smells in our everyday activities, smells that cause us to frown, become angry all of a sudden, and want to head in the opposite direction of where the smell is coming from.
A good example is Liquid Ass, a prank spray that is just one of the most disgusting smells in the world today. This super-concentrated liquid that evaporates in the open to fill the air with a foul but-crack stench with hints of fresh poo and dead animal is the worst prank you can play on anyone.
Here are some smells that are famous the world over for being the worst. Are there smells you think deserve to be included in this list?
10. The Hoatzin
The Hoatzin is a bird, and for it to be on this list, it has to be one of the worst smelling birds on the planet. A very common name for the hoatzin is the stinkbird, a name that it has rightfully earned owing to the strong undesirable stench that the bird gives off.
Although it is very common for animals in the wild to give off undesirable odours, some of them doing so as a defense mechanism, the stinkbird gives off a remarkably awful smell because of how it digests its food. This bird digests its food with the help of foregut fermentation, where bacteria breaks down the food it has eaten in its fermentation chamber, a process very common in ruminants such as cows.
Therefore, this bird basically smells like a herd of cows. The hoatzin smells so bad that despite its good taste and its awkward flying abilities; only desperately hungry people hunt it down for food.
9. Vieux Boulogne Cheese
Can we all agree that cheese is not the best smelling product to come out of a cow? If yes, would you be up to the challenge of determining which cheese smells the worst?
In November of 2004, some scientists took up the challenge of determining which cheese was the worst smelling out of 15 of the worst smelling cheeses known to man. The Vieux Boulogne won the title of worst smelling cheese, and it surely deserved it.
A smell that the ordinary man would describe as a product from a cow’s behind rather than a product from a cow’s udder, the strong pungent smell of this cheese is just unbearable. The cheese smells something close to mushrooms, wet earth, and rotten leaves, a smell that is worse than a type of cheese called Epoisses de Bourgogne, which is banned in some public spaces in France.
The terrible pong coming from this cheese is as a result of beer’s bacteria acting on the enzymes on the cheese.
8. Century Egg
Eggs are a very important part of most people’s breakfast, because they are very nutritious, tasty, and they smell really good when fresh, regardless of whether one chooses to eat them boiled, fried, or even raw. However, a particular Chinese delicacy called the Century Egg is not something that you can forget after smelling it, because the smell is so bad it’s a wonder how the people who love eating these eggs overcome the smell and summon the courage to put them in their mouths.
The Century Egg is basically an egg that has been preserved in a mixture of ash, clay, rice, salt and lime for a few weeks or months. When the preservation process is complete, the shell is removed to reveal a dark-brown egg-white and a creamy, dark-green, pungent smelling yolk. The smell of this Century Egg is described to be close to the smell of sulphur and ammonia – smells that are beyond disgusting.
Small, furry animals are always so cute, despite the fact that many of them are very dangerous. However, the Zorilla, a small furry animal with a long and bushy tail and beautiful black and white markings, is an animal you would want to avoid at all costs.
Belonging to the weasel family, this nocturnal carnivorous mammal looks a lot like the North American skunk, but has a closer relationship to the Eurasian Polecat. The reason you should keep your distance when it comes to the Zorilla is the nasty pungent smelling fluid that it ejects from its anal glands as a defense mechanism against its predators, a fluid that can temporarily blind the predator as well.
You can smell this horrible stench half a mile away, a smell that contains sulphur-based compounds. Since all other animals avoid the Zorilla because of the eye-watering stench it produces at will, be wise enough to follow suit.
6. Hydrogen Sulphide
Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) is one of the worst smelling gasses to come out of a laboratory. The best way to try and describe just how this colourless gas smells is to relate it with the smells that come out of rotten eggs; a seriously terrible stench.
It is possible to describe H2S as foul and offensive, words that if used on people, would describe those who should be locked up in jail. When it is not manufactured in the lab, it is possible to encounter this smell in sewers and swamps, places where bacteria breaks down organic matter in environments free from oxygen. In addition to having a disgusting smell, this gas is corrosive, explosive, flammable and even poisonous.
5. Seal Island
Fish might be one of the best sources of protein out there, but it has got to be the worst smelling source of protein on the planet. The smell of fresh fish is bearable, but the stinky fishy smell of fish that is not just a few days old, but one that is actually rotting, is simply unbearable.
Scientists explain that the reason behind a reeking fish is the fish’s body being exposed to air, which leads to the breakdown of a chemical called triethylamineoxide into ammonia derivatives. Now imagine not just one fish reeking, but hundreds of dead and decomposing fish on a tiny landmass off of South Africa’s coast. Seal Island is the small landmass that is host to not only very many smelly seals, but also the numerous decomposing fish, putrid seal faeces, and a colossal sickening stench.
4. Amorphophallus Titanum (Corpse Flower)
When you see a flower, your first instinct will of course be to smell it, right? In that case, if you ever come across the Amorphophallus Titanum when it is flowering, you will not need anyone to tell you to stay away from it, owing to the strong decomposing odour coming from it.
Popularly called the Corpse Flower, this flower emits a strong, pungent, and repugnant stench only when it is blooming. The odour from this flower is similar to a decaying corpse or rotting meat, and the reason behind the stink is to attract special pollinators to help continue its species.
Pollinators such as flesh flies, dung beetles, and some species of carnivorous insects are attracted to the flower by the awful smell. Indigenous to Sumatra in Indonesia, this flower goes for a very long time before flowering, making it possible to live close to it.
The Durian is a fruit that is very common in South East Asia, but is indigenous to Malaysia. Although a good number of people living in South East Asia love this fruit, most people find it to have an appalling smell. Some foreigners have described the smell of this fruit to resemble the smell of faeces, rotting onions and turpentine mixed together with terrible smelling gym socks. The durian smells so bad because it emits approximately 44 terrible smelling compounds, compounds such as ethanethiol (smells like onions) and Methanethiol (smells like rotten cabbage). Furthermore, the durian is banned in some places especially in Singapore, owing to its terrible smell. Weird enough, this fruit is very useful to some of the people living in South East Asia, because they use it to flavour their traditional dishes, they use it as an anti-fever medicine, and they use it as an aphrodisiac.
2. The Fatberg/Raw Sewage
Human waste sure smells extremely bad, but what is even worse is a huge pile of it, mixed with diapers, congealed fats and oils, and all the nasty things we throw down the sewer clogged up and rotting in one place.
Imagine just how bad one individual’s fresh waste smells and think of the offensive and sickening smell that can come out of a 15-tonne ball of raw sewage, which has been accumulating for a long period. The above situation describes what is commonly referred to as the Fatberg, a situation in 2003 where sewer workers in London discovered a bus-sized build-up of waste that had reduced a particular London sewer’s efficiency to less than five percent. The smell coming out of the Fatberg was so disgusting that it is even hard to find words to explain just how terrible it was.
1. Decomposing Human Flesh
If you have never been so unlucky as to come across a dead and decomposing human body, then be sure you are never going to forget the awful smell that your nose detected. Scientists have conducted tests and proven that the only other animal flesh to smell anything quite as bad as decomposing human flesh is that of a decomposing pig. The pungent and nauseating smell coming out of a decomposing human body stems from the breakdown of the body by a range of enzymes and bacteria, the result being the emission of numerous awful smelling compounds. Although the ability to identify decomposing human flesh is important for people whose work involves finding lost bodies, for the rest of us it should be a smell to avoid at all costs if you desire to keep your last meal inside your body.