Monday, February 9, 2015

Why does lighting a match in the bathroom eliminate odor?

Ever heard someone suggest lighting a match in the bathroom after someone's left an odor in there? It's a funny thing, but it's effective and there's a reason for it.

Lighting a match with match box

According to a La Trobe University study:
When a match is struck, the first thing to burn is the head. The head of a match contains a chemical cocktail that includes a lot of sulfur. In the initial burst of combustion products there is therefore a lot of sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is an extremely pungent substance, to which the smell receptors are extremely sensitive. But it also has a very efficient numbing effect on the sense of smell. You can smell a minute amount of sulfur dioxide, but when you have done so, you will not smell anything else for a while. Sulfur dioxide is a gaseous combustion product, so if this is the main factor no-one wins the bet. It is not flame (plasma) nor smoke (solid aerosol).

To sum that up, sulfur is in the head of a match. When we strike and light a match, sulfur dioxide gets in the air, and our senses are sensitive to it. We smell nothing but the lit match.

Does the lit match get rid of the smell in the bathroom? No, the odor in the bathroom has not been eliminated, but due to our sensitivity to sulfur dioxide it masks other odors.

Try it! This won't be as effective with a candle or lighter, however.


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About Me

I'm Seth, owner of the Giveaway Guy blog. I live in the suburbs outside of Boston with my wife and have a career in SEO. I enjoy writing reviews and entering giveaways in my spare time.
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