Driving by an oil refinery, what is the pleasant steak-like smell?

Wife and I both like it. Smells like well done steak.

Combusted hydrogen sulfide gas? H₂S

Thank you.

Addendum: Often smelled every day at various times we happen to pass by on the Interstate highway.
Interesting olfactory trip: Suncor’steak-like smell - Robert Hite sewage treatment plant - Boyers Coffee (recently burned), - a bakery. And now marijuana grow operations.

If your steak smells like Hydrogen Sulfide, I would not eat it.

Been a long time since I have driven by an oil refinery, mid-seventies. At that time the refineries had stacks burning byproducts.

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H2S smells like rotten eggs. Do you know if it was a refinery or a chemical plant? Lots of odd aromas at chemical plants.

I’ve been by refineries many times and never noticed a cooked steak smell. I used to live a few miles from a now defunct one.

Driving by or on site; just the same rotten egg smell all the time. Pleasant smell and refinery are oxymorons IMO. At one point I took a tour to see how aviation gas was made and if you think the smell is strong driving by then try it up close…

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Suncor Energy refinery.
How do all brands of the area’s gasolines come from this one refinery??
Is it the same petroleum distillate but with each brand’s own additives?

Then I’m guessing the workers were having a bbq.


Not surprised. I was working in a steel pipe mill at the hydrotester, pressure testing each pipe for weld integrity. We were cooking hot dogs on the power supply. The operator got on the intercom and announced our hot lunch. The mechanical repair crew responded, saying that they were steaming crabs for lunch. The hot dogs weren’t quite as exciting then.

Maybe wind direction. There used to be a refinery and a large bakery here along with a still existing fast food processing plant.
Depending upon the winds, one could smell rotten eggs, fresh baked bread, or the food processor.

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Because gasoline is gasoline. All the differences in gas brands is the proprietary additives that are blended in at the refinery, either inside the facility itself or at the loading rack. So many brands can come from the same place but the gas you get at Chevron is different from Shell, Costco, etc.

15+ years ago when ethanol became mandatory where I was, the local refinery/loading rack was behind schedule in installing the needed equipment, so for a few months the tanker loads I was getting was “splash blended”. Meaning they had one tanker truck loaded with ethanol, and would pump several hundred gallons into another to mix with the 11,000 gallons to be delivered to me.


Good Grief , even you should know that .

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There is a stretch of the NJ Turnpike that runs ~3 miles, between Interchanges 12 & 13, and it includes a couple of refineries, plus at least one chemical factory. The only way that the air in that area smells like steak would be if the steak in question had been left w/o refrigeration for a week or two. The comedian Robert Klein used to refer to the smell in that area as “universal fart”.

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When I lived in Cedar Rapids, near Wilson’s Pork Processing and Colonial Bakery, when the wind was right it smelled like a ham sandwich - if you took a whiff on your mustard.

A friend who lived in a cheap apartment near Wilson’s, without AC, would keep the windows open summer nights, fans blowing. One Saturday morning he woke up after partying Friday night. From the smell he was sure he had thrown up somewhere so he reluctantly looked around, found nothing, knew Wilson’s had had a slaughter that morning.

If you burn a steak on a grill, especially if you used a lot of mineral spirits, you might get a refinery smell.

Try being downwind of a pulp mill!


My father loved visiting historic sites, and when I was a kid we wanted to tour Ft. Ticonderoga. However, the stench from a nearby pulp mill drove us away after a few minutes.

I can’t even begin to imagine how bad it was for local residents who had to deal with a constant odor of something that smelled like boiled cabbage–on steroids. :nauseated_face:

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That’s an unusual recipe…

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Maybe it was employee appreciation day and they were grilling steaks for everyone. Before Covid when everyone was in the office - I’d do that for my employees…along with Vegie choices for the Vegans.

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The various brands make it sound as though it is their gasoline from their own refinery.
But Suncor is the only refinery of which I am aware in our area. Next may be Sinclair in Sinclair, ?oming. But are our Sinclair gastationsupplied from 220 miles away?

Or a sugar cane mill.

In Sioux Falls about 7 in the morning for biology class, it was no ham sandwich smell in the air. Stockyard yes, ham sandwich no.

Western Sugar Co-op’sugar beet processing releases an obnoxious chemical, not biological, smell.
Do they use an acid process to dissolve the sugar beets and precipitate outhe sugar?
Unfortunately the town isoutheast of the mill and prevailing winds are to the southeast.