Why Stainless Steel Erases Garlic's Aroma

Why Does Stainless Steel Erase Garlic's Smell?

If you love cooking with garlic, you know it does a lot of good in recipes by helping build flavor -- but its strong odor can linger for hours, especially on our hands. We've all been in the situation where after preparing a wonderful meal, we're left with the stench of garlic on our fingers -- yuck! There are a few tricks people often recommend to eliminate the smell: lemon juice or vinegar, rubbing your hands with salt, or even using toothpaste! But those don't work -- all they do is mask the garlic smell. So what does really work? Stainless steel.

Stainless steel, of all things, has been shown to remove the odor of garlic. Kitchen gadget companies have even created stainless steel bars shaped like soap for removing kitchen smells from your hands. But using any stainless steel surface works, too. Try your stainless steel kitchen sink or faucet -- just hold your hands under cold running water while rubbing the stainless steel for 10 seconds. Voila, the smell will be gone.

Let's explain why stainless steel works.

Not surprisingly, it all has to do with the chemistry of garlic and stainless steel. Garlic contains molecules with sulfur. When cutting garlic, the molecules are transferred to your skin. Washing your hands with water heightens the smell because the water causes the sulfur to turn into sulfuric acid. When you touch stainless steel, the molecules in the steel bind with the sulfur molecules on your hands, thus transferring the molecules (along with the smell) to the metal and off from your hands. Presto! No more garlicky fingers.

Stainless steel can also help remove onion or fish odors from your hands. So the next time you're handling garlic, onions or fish as part of your kitchen prep, try stainless steel for yourself. You'll be surprised at how well it works.

What do you do to get rid of the garlic smell from your hands? Leave us a comment below.

WATCH: How to Remove Garlic Smell from Your Hands

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