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Everybody knows you can produce electrostatic charge rubbing two different materials together. But have you ever smelt e.g. at the plastic after charging it? There actually is a distinct electrostatic charge smell :-) While normally smelling involves the transport of molecules, what you are smelling here, is the electric field itself, or do you? What is happening?

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"Smell of electric field itself" , is a funny thought, but not possible. Think of Faraday cage, Your (everyones) nose is one. Did You ever smell Ozone? This is my first guess (BTW a molecule!) Of course other reaction products from the plastic could be the cause, but then different kinds plastics should smell different. –  Georg Sep 17 '11 at 17:58
@Georg The charge could be picked up by molecules and get inhaled with them. / Why should ozone form more easily in an electric field? –  artistoex Sep 17 '11 at 20:52
@aristoex: Please read about ozone formation at least in wiki or the like. The absorbed charges are a very common thing called air ions, they are around at any time at least in open air, they do not smell. In general: Your tendency to speculate instead of getting information is disgusting. –  Georg Sep 17 '11 at 21:05
@Georg When trying to explain things, doesn't everyone start out with speculations? There's nothing wrong with it if you're open to falsifying them. And getting information is exactly what this site is about. –  artistoex Sep 17 '11 at 21:20
@Georg Regarding your judgements on other people's character: you might want to read the FAQ again. –  artistoex Sep 17 '11 at 21:45

1 Answer 1

The charge on the object ionizes the air a little. I believe that you smell some combination of that and reaction products (such as ozone) from ionized air.

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are you sure about the ionization of air??? because, one can get that peculiar smell even by rubbing both arms on a dry day... –  Vineet Menon Sep 17 '11 at 14:55
Why would a dry day have less ionization? –  Ron Maimon Sep 17 '11 at 15:26
Charge on some surface neither ionizes or otherwise chemically alters something in the air. Chemistry starts only when that charges move, eg as sparks or corona discharges. –  Georg Sep 17 '11 at 19:22

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