Why are seafood’s smells so strong and why are they so hard to wash off?


Why are seafood’s smells so strong and why are they so hard to wash off?

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There’s a material on some sea creatures that, when exposed to air, starts turning into a compound very similar to ammonia. So it’s pretty much the same process that makes pee smell worse as it waits.

It’s hard to wash off, because the smelly compound goes into your skin and doesn’t stay outside, so washing doesn’t get all of it.

Two chemicals inside fish flesh – trimethylamine and dimethylamine. When they are exposed to air it reacts and is processed into something called amines (aka the fish smell). The longer fish flesh is exposed to air, the stronger the smell becomes. Fish from the ocean have a stronger smell because they have more trimethylamine and dimethylamine levels than freshwater fish.

Amines are strong and require something to neutralize/absorb the smell. Usually baking soda and white vinegar are strong enough to trap the fish smell.

There’s a few chemicals that are really dangerous even in low quantities and so are really important for your body to detect at low levels. The compounds involved with bad fish smell belong to one of these groups (specifically amines, which are also similar to ammonia which could indicate urine), so that’s why it’s generally so strong.

As for why it’s so hard to wash them off, not only do they trigger a strong response at low levels (meaning you’ll need to get rid of significantly more than you might think), but the smell-causing compounds interact with the oils and bacteria on your skin to be smelled, so you may have to wash more than just the direct fish compounds