Unusual, and interesting question! The smell people refer to when they
speak of the smell of death is comprised of many volatile organic
compounds, which are detailed below:
GC and the smell of death
..."They analysed the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) evolving from
two corpses by relatively simple methodology.
First of all, they remind us that the VOCs that constitute the smell
arise from the same sources in each human corpse. Carbohydrates in the
body break down to give mainly oxygenated compounds (alcohols,
aldehydes, ketones, acids, esters, ethers), proteins degrade to
nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur compounds, nucleic acids from
nitrogen and phosphorus compounds and lipids decompose to nitrogen,
phosphorus and oxygenated compounds and hydrocarbons. So, in theory,
different decaying bodies should produce the same set of VOCs.....The
most abundant compounds were dimethyl disulphide, toluene, hexane,
1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, 2-propanone, 3-pentanone and 2-pentanone. The
relatively high levels of toluene were unexpected, leading the authors
to hint at the possibility of toluene poisoning of the victims. The
high number of fatty acid esters found was explained in terms of
saponification. Many hydrocarbons, aldehydes, ketones and alcohols
were also detected."
The smell of death
..."Bart Smedts of the Royal Military Academy?s chemistry department
in Brussels analyses soil and vapour samples from the burial grounds
of human and animal remains at various stages of decomposition. He has
determined a series of chemical signatures that reflect a sample?s
identity by measuring what he calls ?the traditional decomposition
gases? ? including sulfur dioxide, methane, benzene derivatives and
long chain hydrocarbons..."
This is interesting:
The smell of death - IDF uses chemical substances resembling stench of
dead bodies in simulation exercises
I hope this satisfies your curiouslty! If I can assist further,
please ask for a clarification.
Search terms used at Google:
"smell of death"