The smell of melted crayons

The building I work in smells like melted crayons. I googled “smell melted crayons” and came upon websites that talked about this smell being in the carpet and sound proofing in new cars. What’s your opinion? What chemical is causing this smell?


The 3r’s

This building isn’t some sort of a school or day-care is it? We used to find places in school to actually melt crayons, usually involving the heating system. Our building reeked of glue and peanut butter! What were those 3 R’s?

The building is relatively new, and I think that’s the key. When we first moved in, so many people complained about the smell that we had an environmental agency come in to do testing. It rated out “ok.” Do I trust the “safe” levels set by the Feds? No! I isolated one of the smells to be melted crayons. My sense of smell is better than most people’s. Whatever the smell is, it also is found in new cars. I want to know what that chemical is.

A “google” of new car smell produced extensive results.
When ever I made a diagnosis that we had never seen before the boss would always ask “did you chech for bullitens”?
Now I make it a rule for myself to do a search before I ask a technical question.
Your search did not help?

yes i did a thorough search of the internet. That’s how I found out that people had been complaining of melted crayon smells in cars, and that some people thought it was coming from the carpeting and soundproofing (possibly the glue). Others say it is the plastic dashboard. My question was asking what CHEMICAL produces this smell?

Wow! Just before we sold our 2001 VW Beetle we noticed it had quite suddenly developed an odor of melted crayons. We could not figure out what was causing it. The smell apparently isn’t limited to new cars.

It is a mix of chemicals known as VOC"s (Volitale Organic Compounds) including Styrene,Formaldehyde.
Number 1 on the Google search list

To the person who told me the smell is VOC’s, I want to thank you very very much. I’m sure you are correct because the levels of formaldyhyde in our building were tested and found to be just barely below the level mandated by the Feds. We had the building tested for lots of different chemicals. I didn’t understand your comment “Number 1 on the google search list.” I don’t know what text you googled, but I really did try very hard to find this information before I resorted to CarTalk! Thanks again!

If the levels of VOCs are truly just below regulatory limits, I’d be bugging my company president and HR manager to do something about it (or to pressure the building owner). If they won’t, a phonecall to your state’s Department of Health is probably in order.

Formaldehyde is commmonly found off-gassing from building materials - like the high levels found in the FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina. Detectable concentrations (low levels) are actually pretty common, but high levels might be the sign of a problem.

The carpet glue, particle-board furniture, and paint in your office is probably off-gassing VOCs. There isn’t a lot you can do about stopping the source at this point, but there may be a way to improve the building’s ventilation system and introduce more fresh air to make you more comfortable.