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  #1  
Old 02-03-2011, 05:20 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Why don't boogers smell bad?

I just noticed this the other day: boogers are odorless. Is this true for everyone, or do just I have mutant boogers? (Not including, of course, when you're sick.)

Follow-up questions:
1. If they have a taste, why not a smell?
2. Do all bodily fluids have a strong smell? Is this an evolutionary advantage? Why the exception with boogers?
3. Is this somehow related to their magical hardening properties?
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  #2  
Old 02-03-2011, 05:50 PM
ticker ticker is offline
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They are in your nose pretty much all the time to some extent. If they had an odour you would be smelling this all the time, not smelling anything would actually be smelling boogers. Therefore how could you possibly differentiate smelling boogers and not smelling anything at all?
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  #3  
Old 02-03-2011, 06:20 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ticker View Post
They are in your nose pretty much all the time to some extent. If they had an odour you would be smelling this all the time, not smelling anything would actually be smelling boogers. Therefore how could you possibly differentiate smelling boogers and not smelling anything at all?
Smell somebody else's boogers.
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  #4  
Old 02-03-2011, 06:33 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Nobody nose.
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  #5  
Old 02-03-2011, 06:55 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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One more follow-up:

4. Is not eating boogers a learned behavior? I talked to a Korean and they said that children have to be taught not to eat their boogers there too.
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  #6  
Old 02-03-2011, 06:57 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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I don't think there's much connection between bodily fluids and strong odor.

Mucus, sweat, saliva and tears are all odorless as far as I can tell. When these do smell, it's mainly because of bacteria, not the fluid itself.

Urine does smell. I'm sure some internal fluids have smells, like digestive juices and blood, but I don't really know the details.
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  #7  
Old 02-03-2011, 07:00 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Boogers certainly do smell during an infection. Gack. Makes me think the odor extinction theory can't be why healthy boogers don't smell.

Most of the time, they're just water and mucin, which is sugar and protein, with trapped dust and bacteria stuck in them. Apparently not smelly proteins.
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:03 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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They can. I have had some nasal infections where my nose itself smelled bad. That is no fun. The back of your throat can smell terrible too. I got some tonsil stones (little white hard things behind your tonsils) before I got my tonsils out that were absolutely foul when they were in place and even worse once I got them out and smelled them. Tongue scrapings don't tend to smell so great either if you haven't scraped them off in a while. Blood doesn't smell bad, just like metal to me.
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  #9  
Old 02-03-2011, 07:06 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Mucus, sweat, saliva and tears are all odorless as far as I can tell.
I read this in a different thread, but the way to tell is to smell somebody else's. I can certainly smell somebody else's saliva and sweat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
Most of the time, they're just water and mucin, which is sugar and protein, with trapped dust and bacteria stuck in them. Apparently not smelly proteins.
I guess this explains the eating boogers phenomenon, thanks.
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  #10  
Old 02-03-2011, 07:08 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
I guess this explains the eating boogers phenomenon, thanks.
LOL. Plus, little fingers just fit up there so perfectly!

Seriously kids, don't eat your boogers. Didja notice what else is in there? BACTERIA. The yucky stuff that your body is trying to get rid of so it doesn't make you sick. Boogers might be tasty, but they're germ laden.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:06 PM
Autolycus Autolycus is offline
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Yeah, and why can't you pick your friend's nose?
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  #12  
Old 02-03-2011, 08:14 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autolycus View Post
Yeah, and why can't you pick your friend's nose?
Obviously, your fingers won't fit right. Every person was born with fingers precisely fitted to their nostrils, like a perfect lock and key.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:42 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autolycus View Post
Yeah, and why can't you pick your friend's nose?
You can, but you can't wipe your friend on the couch.
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  #14  
Old 02-03-2011, 09:13 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
LOL. Plus, little fingers just fit up there so perfectly!

Seriously kids, don't eat your boogers. Didja notice what else is in there? BACTERIA. The yucky stuff that your body is trying to get rid of so it doesn't make you sick. Boogers might be tasty, but they're germ laden.
Boogers ain't never made me sick.

Just sayin'...
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  #15  
Old 02-04-2011, 12:47 AM
sitchensis sitchensis is offline
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I read somewhere that eating boogers might be an evolutionary way for kids to pump up their immune systems. Sounds like qwack science with lots of google hits. Anybody got a professional peer reviewed article on it? I can’t find anything.
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  #16  
Old 02-04-2011, 01:54 AM
naita naita is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
I read this in a different thread, but the way to tell is to smell somebody else's. I can certainly smell somebody else's saliva and sweat.
Have you actually tried smelling these fresh under laboratory conditions before bacteria have had the time to develop? No one is saying there's no such thing as BO or bad breath, but saliva and sweat by themselves are pretty much odorless, yours and everyone elses.
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  #17  
Old 02-04-2011, 08:04 AM
Turpentine Turpentine is offline
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Chimps eat their own boogers. I've seen it. I've also had the unfortunate experience of witnessing a male monkey eat his own...never mind.

Anyway, the fact that primates seem to eat their own less-smelly bodily secretions makes me think not eating boogers is definitely a learned behavior. Maybe the body fluids that smell very offensive is a natural warning to the primate, human or otherwise, that it should not be "recycled."
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  #18  
Old 02-04-2011, 10:03 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
Boogers ain't never made me sick.

Just sayin'...
How do you know?
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  #19  
Old 02-04-2011, 10:44 AM
mckall mckall is offline
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It's not peer reviewed, but this guy says eating boogers does have a health benefit:

http://web.archive.org/web/200502061...sm_903083.html
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  #20  
Old 02-05-2011, 05:15 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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I caught something of a cold from someone, and Christmas Snot (red, green, blue) started coming. It didn't have a smell either.

Also, could there be a psychological effect? Something that looks gross triggers the nausea response, even though we didn't smell it?
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  #21  
Old 02-05-2011, 05:16 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naita View Post
Have you actually tried smelling these fresh under laboratory conditions before bacteria have had the time to develop?
Heh, are you going to say that water doesn't have a smell either?
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  #22  
Old 02-05-2011, 06:50 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
How do you know?
It snot rocket science.
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  #23  
Old 02-06-2011, 02:47 AM
Smapti Smapti is offline
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I'm recovering from a sinus infection, and I can assure you that my nasal explusions have had a MOST disagreeable odor for the past week.
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