Does stainless steel get rid of garlic smells? – the results (part 1)

Rubbing garlicy hands on stainless steel is said to get rid of garlic smells. Indeed, you can even buy stainless steel ‘soap’ for just that purpose. But does it actually work? Chemistry tells us that it certainly is plausible, and anecdotal evidence from kitchens around the world support the claim, but to date there is very little hard evidence. Which is why we asked folks to conduct a quick experiment. Over 250 people joined in by rubbing their hands with garlic and then scrubbed away with stainless steel or plastic (as a control).

And we now have the results…..

IT IS A HIT …. ¬†Almost 50% of people found that stainless steel was effective as a way to remove garlic wiffs. Whereas only 10% of folks thought the hand rubbed with the plastic spoon smelt less than the one treated with stainless steel. That left a significant preportion of people (40%) who couldn’t tell the difference between the hands treated with stainless steel or plastic, but that may not be surprising, after all the experimental method required our citizen scientists to apply a liberal amount of garlic to their hands, and it may be that for many the stainless steel just wasn’t up to the job.

So what next?

Now that we have data to support the theory that stainless steel does get rid of garlic smells it is time to investigate what is going on. Unfortunately this isn’t something that you all can join in with. Instead we are putting out mass spectrometers to work and analysing the chemicals that are removed from garlic extracts once they have been incubated with steel and plastic. Hopefully after a garlicy summer we’ll be able to tell you more.


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