Loss of weight of musk in a current of dry air

Charles B. Bazzoni
1915 Journal of the Franklin Institute  
MANY attempts have been made to determine the smallest mass of an odorous substance that can excite the sense of smell. These investigations have been suggested by the assumption that the sensation of smell is stimulated by the direct impact of the particles of matter on the olfactory tract and have had for their ultimate purpose the formulation of a satisfactory theory of smell causation. We may say, in passing, that the questions as to how smell sensations are produced and as to how different
more » ... as to how different odors are related or differentiated are still open. The number of facts known is not sufficient to justify the formulation of a theory. It is interesting to refer to the well-known work of Fischer and Penzoldt, 1 who found that I part of musk in IO,OOO,OOO of air and I part of mercaptan in 5o,ooo, ooo, ooo of air could be detected, and to that of Passy, 2 who detected o.ooooo5 gramme of musk in a litre of air, o.oo 5 mg. of camphor, and o.ooooooo4 mg. of mercaptan. It seems fair to assume that the primary sensation is due to particles of the material carried by the air into the nose, and to consider certain, therefore, that all odorous materials must constantly lose in weight. The results of Passy seem to show that the loss even of strongly odorous substances need not be very great and might consequently be hard to detect and harder still to measure. The attempt has been made several times to measure this loss, using musk. As a result of these attempts it has been stated not infrequently that this substance gives off its odor during years without losing at all in weight, but any one familiar with the hygroscopic character of musk granules will realize at once that a small loss might be completely masked unless extraordinary precautions were taken. In the investigation here recorded the loss * Communicated
doi:10.1016/s0016-0032(15)90061-3 fatcat:tvfixd62pjgx7h3esf2b4uzknu