What are the olfactory chemicals in whiteboard/permanent markers and what do they bind to in the nose, lungs, and brain?

  • $\begingroup$ Anyway... here is one relevant paper on human olfactory receptors. $\endgroup$
    – user132
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ here's another paper that might shed light on the second part of your question... ploscompbiol.org/article/… $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ personally i find ethanol and its closest homologs smell 'sweet' $\endgroup$
    – www0z0k
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ That make some sense just looking at the mocules. They both bind to the olfactories in a similar way. using the H-OH side. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


The smell of dry erase markers come from the chemicals ethanol, butanol and isopropyl alcohol. Like all chemicals inhaled through the nose, they bind to the Receptor neurons in the located in the back of the nose. The neurons interpret the chemicals using a 'lock-and-key' model but the specific way its coded and perceived in humans is still being researched and the process is not completely understood.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .