Anyone who has had to fight the fridge’s stink should have realized that grandma’s infallible recipe doesn’t always work. This is because there is no magic formula that is able to remove all types of photums from the device.
Chemistry explains why. Most of the unpleasant odors that appear in the fridge are caused by the decomposition of some of the foods inside (do you know the jar that has leftover grains that no one has eaten?).
When food rots, it generates unpleasant gases. Hence the stench that comes out of the refrigerator and invades the kitchen.
What is used for spoiled grains will not always be used for this forgotten expired product at the bottom of the tray.
Is there a solution to the bad smell?
It works in most cases and is basically burned until it turns into a little bit of dust. Made solely of carbon, coal receives oxygen during the production process, aiming to open thousands of tiny pores between the carbon atoms.
When the smelly particles pass through these tiny pores, they are captured and left no longer.
If the fridge smells too bad, you will need to change the charcoal pan in a few days, because most of the pores in the appliance that come into contact with air will be full.
Another substance that works the same way is coffee powder. The finer the powder, the better: the larger the area available to capture the smell. The more air your refrigerator surface comes in contact with, the more odor you will pick up.
But it is not guaranteed
Both activated charcoal and coffee are organic compounds that have a link with organic gases, so they are great options for removing the smell of spoiled food. But things change if the smell is not coming from some biodegradable compound.
In such cases, you can use:
- Vinegar and lemon: Because they contain acids, they are able to “break down” the protein structure or interact with the basic compounds and thus eliminate odor;
- Sodium bicarbonate: Because it has a basic pH, it can remove the bad smell if it is caused by some acid;
- cleaner: It helps eliminate odor because its particles interact with grease and water, including dirt in the micro-water-soluble envelopes.
- Alcohol: They may not be as effective as detergents, but they also interact with other substances impregnated in the interior of the refrigerator.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether the smell is really coming from your fridge. When in doubt, it is worth taking two steps:
- Pass detergent first to clean all refrigerator internals;
- Apply activated charcoal after cleaning everything.
Do you want to keep the refrigerator clean and prevent unpleasant odors? Make sure:
- Wash products that have just arrived from the supermarket before putting them in the fridge.
- Always keep the device clean;
- Always take into account the condition and storage of food.
Maria Lucilia dos Santos is a professor at the Institute of Chemistry at the University of Brasilia.
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