Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Q/A Stinky Wet Stuff?

StokeMaster Network Q/A
Stinky Wet Stuff?

So this one is a response to Peter who is one of my StokeMaster Network member. This is about how I am avoiding getting my stuff from stinking up, especially booties.

In order to tackle this you need to be a bit of micro-biologist.
First off, you need to understand the fermentation process.

Fermentation process is very important for all of us. Without out it, we don't have bread, beer, sake, wine, cheese to just name a few all of which I like to enjoy. On the other end of the spectrum fermentation can occur in and around your body. Yeast infection, for example, is a fermentation go wild.

In my opinion, a good deal of the stinky stuff happens due to fermentation.

In order to fermentation to take place you need to have an environment
  • The presence of the seed organisms
  • The growing medium for the micro-organisms
  • The nutrient that feeds the organisms
  • The temperature
  • The time
  • The lack of infectious or anti-agent for the growth
Given all above factors to work out, the organisms take in the nutrient in the growing medium and covert the nutrients into bi-products. Some of which is CO2 and other are complex protein or gas like hydrogen sulfide etc.

First the ocean and your skin contains lots of different kinds of organisms. Probably in the order of hundreds if not thousands.

The sea water is very nutrient rich and especially these days with pollution, fertilizer leeching into the ocean and as your stuff drys the nutrient get more concentrated making easier for the organisms to find and go in production. You only need a few of these organisms but they multiply very fast especially in your warm house or inside a car.

Also no matter how hard your wash your body, you cannot get rid of the native organisms that are on your skin.... two bit strikes there.

In terms of the nutrients, you have some hope. Flushing and rinsing your wet stuff with clean water can remove quite a bit of the nutritious sea water. I'd do that vigorously and as soon as possible.

The temperature is actually important. If you leave the wet stuff in your hot car, it will simply help the organisms to multiply much faster and they can work even at 90 to 120 degrees. Note that the lack of oxygen does not matter and in fact, I believe that anaerobic fermentation can create a lot more different proteins than just aerobic one in which most of the stuff goes from O2 to CO2.

So I'd rinse and hang the stuff in colder place as soon as possible.

Next is the time. If you can prevent the fermentation process to stop sooner, the less bi-products that get generated. To this effect making sure that the stuff drys faster is important. You can notice a significant difference when you blow the fan on the stuff and have them dry. I personally throw all the stuff in the washer and not wash them but put them in a spin cycle to get most of the water out first. Washing will destroy the rubber stuff so don't machine wash your suits.

Finally it is possible to further reduce the growth by;

- Wash with light amount of dish soap, shampoo, Woolite etc. This will help remove various nutrients and organisms too from the cells of the neoprene.
- Applying a light coat of Lysol type stuff.
- Use Mirazyme from McNett and have it enzymatically break down the bi-products
- Use very weak solution of bleach, but this is not recommended for rubber materials

OK, now you can help by writing comments with what you know. Be sure also to tell me if I said something wrong.


Cynthia said...

I can get my wetsuit dry in 2 days by hanging inside out the first day, then right-side out the second. But my booties take forever to dry and are always stinky although I rotate through 2 pairs. The "wetsuit accessory hanger" doesn't seem to help. Advice?

Unknown said...

Seems like a losing battle with neoprene. Bleach destroys it in a hurry. I rinse and dry my booties every time I surf, but apparently one day there was a lot of stuff (organisms) in the ocean, cuz all of a sudden they started to stink. I ended up just buying new ones. The old ones were pretty nasty. I left them in the sun to completely dry them out and to sun bleach them, but that did pretty much nothing.