Solving Stinky Trash with Adsorption via Zeolite and Activated Carbon

Michael Stone, December 30, 2017, , (src), (all posts)


The Problem

Stinky trash can be an annoying fact of life for people living in cramped urban settings, for example if they have pets or small children generating a seemingly endless stream of dirty diapers / poop bags / pee pads / …

That said, what can be done aside from costly or time-consuming solutions like

  1. taking out the trash more frequently,

  2. buying an expensive trash storage system, or

  3. using denser garbage bags and closing them at the top



When something smells bad, it smells bad because chemicals are flowing from some source materials to our noses1, usually down a concentration gradient. Therefore, to solve the problem we need to either

  1. reduce the concentration of the smelly chemicals at the source,
  2. stop the smelly chemicals from leaving the source,
  3. drastically slow them down on their way to our noses,
  4. capture them along the way,
  5. redirect them away from us and other people, or
  6. transform them so that they are no longer offensive.

A Solution Concept

Of the various solution approaches mentioned above, I’m most excited about capturing smelly chemicals before they reach me because I think I can do this quickly cheaply and safely by simply small quantities of a suitable adsorbent into my trash – basically by putting in a kind of sticky “glue trap” for chemicals (vs. a glue trap for insects or animals).

Current Implementation

Each time I replace a garbage bag, I now sprinkle a rough heaping tablespoon of Marineland Ammonia-Neutralizing Zeolite Blend into the new bag.

Result: no more stinky trash, at a cost of about $0.05-0.10 / bag!

  1. or more generally, to our skin, eyes, lungs, etc. which is why when I chop onions, I do so under a wet cloth or I wear both a respirator and eye protection; just a respirator isn’t enough!↩︎