First, some background on properties.

There are two general categories ofproperties that are used to describe materials:chemical properties and physical properties.

You are watching: Is odor a physical or chemical property

Chemical properties describe chemical changes ofmatter, i.e. changes that result in changes tocomposition of matter. Some examples areflammability, acidity, and oxidationbehavior. Incontrast physical properties are characteristicsthat can be measured without changing the chemicalcomposition of the matter. These include mass,length/shape measurements, and phasetransformation temperatures (e.g. boiling andmelting points). Next, consider what "makes" an odor .

Basically, molecules of the matter in the airdissolve into mucus and eventually bind with(physically fit into) smell receptors. All ofthese are physical changes though; none arerelated to a change in composition. Thus, odor isnot a chemical property, but rather is a physicalproperty. That being said, a new odorbeingdetected can be an indication of a chemical change whichresulted inthe formation of a new substance (one with adifferent associated odor).

nodiscussion of the differences between chemical andphysical properties or of odors.

These answers give more background on odors, butnot chemical vs. physical properties.>

Answer 2:

When I was an undergrad, my professor got achemical manufactured for his research. Thebottle said it had "no physiological effects," butit smelled like popcorn. The professor said"odor" was a physiological effect.

Answer 3:

Not really - odor is something that your sensesare able to detect. Different animals smelldifferent chemicals, and are more or lesssensitive to different chemicals. What chemicalsare odiferous even varies within species - whatyou smell may not be the same as what somebodyelse smells.

Answer 4:

No, odor is a physical property. Ingeneral, properties of materials are classified aschemical or physical. Physical propertiesare determined without changing the identity ofthe substance. That means that there is nochange to the atomic or molecular structure of thesubstance. Chemical properties are the opposite- they do involve change to the molecular oratomic structure of the substance.

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Broadly,this means that chemical properties have to dowith chemical reactions, and physical propertiesdo not. You smell an odor when molecules of thesubstance enter your nose and bind withreceptors (that means they fit into andthen stick to the receptors, like how two Legoblocks stick together) in your nose, which thenrelay a message to your brain which it interpretsas a “smell.”

Since we smell things without causing anychange to the molecular structure of thesubstance, odor is classified as a physicalproperty. Note that chemical reactions take placein our body so that the receptor can communicatewith our brain, but there is no chemicalreaction to the molecule of the substance itself.

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