Smell tests?


I’ve just purchased a Glowforge and it should arrive on Friday. I am beyond excited. I am however, concerned about smell. What materials smell the least? What materials smell the worst? What materials will gas out my neighborhood? What materials will fill the streets with the smell of roses? (Okay maybe not the last one).

Also, I know that the exhaust fan on the glowforge will propel exhaust down the 8’ dryer hose, but does anyone have a workaround to force the air further out?

Thank you!

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Search for “booster fan”.

Smells are subjective of course. For me from best to worst:

Glass/tile/stone (no smell)
Bone (smells a bit like burning hair)


I would add to that list: the 3M adhesive tape on the back of the Proofgrade veneers just about makes me gag when I cut it.


@evansd2 list is a decent one though for me smells are subjective. His list goes from no smell, to strong smell. Personally I don’t mind the smell of acrylic but it is quite noticeable. The wife has an asthma attack.

How close are your neighbors? For most materials the GF exhaust smells less than your average backyard barbecue and is no more toxic. I can be within 10 ft of the exhaust and not even notice most materials. Something like acrylic is out of the ordinary to your nose, not organic, so it’s different. Kind of like smelling nail polish from a few feet away.

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That’s the only one I dislike enough to bag up the project and throw away the scraps when I’m done. It stinks when cutting and the project & scraps keep stinking and will still be noticeable hours later unless everything is bagged in Ziploc bags or disposed of.


I would personally put acrylic more toward the no smell than leather. Leather lingers, acrylic clears out pretty quick and for my nose leather is far more offensive.

Worked an incinerator disposing of road kill. No longer consider burnt leather something unusual.

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Rubber worst. Leather unpleasant. Acrylic sharp but depending on your senses of smell not too unpleasant. Walnut and cherry, pleasant incense aroma to me.

@chris1 has documented his extensive testing and smell mitigation efforts. Read up on his efforts and you will get a good sense of comprehensive smell abatement.

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Rosewood? (jk)

Leather smells like burnt flesh, so depending on how you are with fire you may already be familiar with that scent (I know I am #sigh)

but yeah, they all clear reasonably quickly if they’re vented outside. I made the mistake of having my backdoor open for a breeze which caused the vented air to whoosh back into my living room…that took a minute to figure out my raging stupid, so you can learn from my mistake :stuck_out_tongue:

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Thank you everyone for your responses!

I am very excited for my glowforge to arrive, but nervous about the smell, particularly of leather as that is/was going to be one of my primary materials. For reference, I am living on the second story of a two story apartment building, and plan to have the exhaust port as close to the top of the window as possible. Today I also purchased a Corded in-line duct fan that i can hopefully use to propel the smell even further out from my building. I am glad to hear that exhaust tends to rise, because there is no one above me.

Thank you!

Have you had any luck w this inline duct fan you got from home depot? I’m looking at purchasing it

search the forum for vivosun. you can get a vivosun 4" inline fan on amazon for around $25 if I remember correctly and it does around 195cfm (similar to the GF fan). That home depot one is only like 60-80 cfm. If you want to spend a bit more there are 6" fans (I believe the really good ones are AC Infinity Cloudline) that do even more cfm.


That fan would be an obstruction to air flow. As stated, there are many discussions of suitable fans on the forum.

What about this one?

Reading carefully it is not as strong as the Vivosun. It is 160 cfm with no help and if you are doing up to 250 cfm it won’t make things worse. The Vivosun is 190 cfm to start but they do not call the upper limit plus the Suncorp will need more help to not leak .

Which 6" vivosun are guys recommending there are a few on amazon?

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Search the forum for duct and fan, there are numerous threads that go into great detail on which fan and how to install it. Read several threads and you’ll notice the fans that keep coming up over and over again.

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My experience is that more cfm is better, though may be diminishing returns. I have been using the 190 CFM 4" fan for over a year now. When you are cutting a wood that has a lot of smoke it is increasing the total volume a lot and can overwhelm the Vivosun if it is working alone, but most engraves and Acrylic do not generate so much of their own gasses that the Vivosun alone can take care of it.