BBC Earth (Asia) - - Science -

We’ve teamed up with Prof Mark Lorch, a chemist from the Univer­sity of Hull, to test whether life hacks re­ally work – and we need your help!

You may have heard that rub­bing gar­licky hands on some­thing made from stain­less steel, such as a spoon, re­moves the whiff. You can even buy stain­less steel soap! But does it work? No one has re­ally tested it un­der sci­en­tific con­di­tions, so my fel­low chemists and I (funded by the Royal So­ci­ety of Chem­istry) de­vised a cit­i­zen sci­ence ex­per­i­ment to see whether it’s a hit or myth.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple took part (you can see how to do the ex­per­i­ment at­tormyth) and their re­sults showed that this trick does work! Which leave us with the ques­tion of how does it work? We are test­ing some the­o­ries in the lab, but this is what we think so far:

Gar­lic is full of sul­phur-con­tain­ing chem­i­cals, that give it its fa­mil­iar taste and odour. One of them, called al­licin, is prob­a­bly re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing your hands smell. Stain­less steel is an al­loy, which is pre­dom­i­nantly made of iron but also con­tains chromium. The chromium forms an ox­ide layer on the sur­face of the al­loy, pro­tect­ing the iron from rust­ing. It could be that the ox­ide layer re­acts with the al­licin from the gar­lic, mak­ing it cling to the sur­face of the stain­less steel in­stead of your hands.

You can also con­duct our next ex­per­i­ment, which in­ves­ti­gates how to stop flow­ers from wilting. Read on to find out more!

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