I bought some of this Vector 14x Butane

To use in a Butane Soldering Iron and every time I turn on the Iron, there's a really strong rotten egg/gas smell (and it lingers even after 30 secs). Is this normal?

I had a small torch years back and got some cheap butane from 7-11 and it never smelled so strong (could barely smell it) before when I turned it on. Not even my gas stove smells that bad after using it for an hour.

Is it the butane? I bought the Vector cause the Iron said to use premium butane.


Yes it's relatively normal for some gas to escape before it starts burning.

The smell is from an additive called Ethanethiol (ethyl mercaptan) which has a strong odor that humans can detect in very small concentrations. You only smell it from escaped gas and not a byproduct of combustion, hence why you won't smell it relative to the duration of the burn.

  • Can I assume that the cheap butane I bought did not have (or barely had any) Ethanethiol in it? Actually thinking about it, even with a propane BBQ, I could smell the gas but it was fairly normal gas smell which was tolerable. This stuff is quite pungent. – Jack Jun 25 '15 at 15:55
  • I don't think there is any standard for how much to put in, so it might just be a matter of concentration. Also your BBQ is outside and there is usually a breeze so it will disperse a lot faster. – Steven Jun 25 '15 at 17:39

Actually that smell is a new thing. I've been buying Vector Butane for years off Amazon, and only last year did I get my first case with that overdose of Godawful additive.

I believe they did that to thwart idiots seeking a cheap high inhaling the gas.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.