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Sourdough starter improving air quality?

frognog's picture

Sourdough starter improving air quality?

Hi all!

So my question is, can an active sourdough starter kept out in the open improve air quality? If so, how does it accomplish this?

A bit of background: I live in a very small apartment, about 350 square feet. It's an old building, poorly maintained by the landlord, and as a result there has been a....sinister smell about the place since I moved in. Nothing I've tried has improved it, it always lingers.

Well, about 2 weeks ago, I created my first sourdough starter. It became super active ~4 days ago, and since then I've realized the bad smell in my place has all but disappeared!

Before, the smell was sort of musty, generally unpleasant. But now, whenever I walk into my apartment, I'm greeted by clean-smelling air with a slight yeasty undertone!

I strongly suspect the starter to be the reason for the improved smell, because nothing else to my knowledge has changed that could've improved it.

So what I'm hoping to learn is, why is this the case? I'm sure it must have something to do with the starter feeding on the yeast in the air (?), but I'm having trouble finding anything on google about it.

I would love to read any scientific resources someone may be able to offer that might explain in depth how/why active fermentation could improve air quality in a small space.

Or maybe the improved smell is just my imagination and the starter has no role here....?

I'd love to know. Thanks!

GaryBishop's picture

Smell is such a direct sense. When you see a thing there are photons mediating between you and it. When you hear a sound, air is mediating between you and the source. When you smell a thing small bits of it are literally up your nose!

I'll guess that the sourdough is triggering all sorts of positive signals that are overriding the weaker musty smells. Maybe it is a bit like tinnitus ("ringing" in the ears); if you get into a sufficiently quiet space nearly everyone will hear "ringing". Perhaps in the absence of positive smells the nose focuses on the negative ones?

Of course, I'm making all this up. I'm just a computer guy.