Science project

Can Certain Foods Make You Smell?

Research Questions:

  • Does eating certain foods for an extended period of time cause you to smell?
  • Which foods produce the strongest odors?
  • For how long do those odors linger?

Onions, garlic, and curry definitely makes your breath smell. But do smells also come through our skin in the form of perspiration? This experiment will give you the answer!


  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Curry
  • 15 test subjects (at least five for each test group of onions, garlic, and curry)
  • An “odor judge” who doesn't know about the experiment
  • Pen/paper for notes

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Prepare the onion, garlic, and strong curry for eating.
  2. Divide your group of 15 test subjects into three groups of five.
  3. Give one group raw onions to eat, one group raw garlic, and one group curry.
  4. One day later, gather all your test subjects into one spot, along with your “odor judge." Your test subjects should not wear any lotion on their skin, nor any fragrance.
  5. Have your test subjects line up and hold their arms out. Instruct your judge to smell each subject between his or her elbows. Ask the judge: Do you smell anything unusual? What do you smell? Is the smell strong or subtle? Record the judge's responses.
  6. Do the exact same thing one week later.
  7. Compare the responses of your judge with the record of what the subjects ate. Was your odor judge able to detect onions, garlic, or curry on the skin of the subjects? Calculate the percentage of matching responses for data. Compare what the judge smelled after one day to what he or she smelled after one week.
  8. Evaluate your results and come up with a conclusion.

Suggested Chart:

  Anything Unusual? What do you smell? Strong/Subtle?
Test Subject #1      
Test Subject #2      


Terms/Concepts: food consumption; food odor;  body odor; perspiration; bad breath; digestive system

References: Wikipedia's Digestive System Page; National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC); Your Digestive System; Maton, Anthea; Jean Hopkins, Charles William McLaughlin, Susan Johnson, Maryanna Quon Warner, David LaHart, Jill D. Wright, Human Biology and Health (Prentice Hall, 1993)

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