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Science Explains Why It’s Normal For Plane Food To Taste Bad

Science Explains Why It’s Normal For Plane Food To Taste Bad

Dining experiences on planes aren’t renowned for their quality. The meal served by the air host/hostess may taste bland and dry, but studies have found it has nothing to do with the food or the cooking. Actually, it is all about atmosphere and science – and it’s all about you.

Pressure

A study from The Fraunhofer Institute (a research institute based in Germany) found that the cabin atmosphere, which is pressurized at 8,000 feet, numbed the taste buds. The cool, dry environment causes the meal to be the equivalent of eating food while having a cold. Our perception of saltiness and sweetness, which are vital aspects of the tasting experience, drop by approximately 30% at high altitudes. Meanwhile, the cabin pressure dulls the sensors in the nose that affect taste.

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Noise

Another study (this time from Cornell University) found that the noisy environment inside an airplane alters the taste of food. A group of almost fifty people were provided with a variety food to enjoy in a silent setting. They were tested again, this time wearing headsets blasting 85 decibels of noise as a substitute for roaring jet engines on a plane. The tests showed that the noise dulled the sweetness of food, while it intensified the savory aspects. Either way, the tasting sense is compromised. The environment we eat in alters our taste perception. Hearing plays an important role right alongside smell and taste.

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Humidity

When reaching soaring heights in a plane, the humidity equals that of a desert (at less than 12%). This dry environment isn’t exactly an ideal dining condition. It explains why a passenger desires that next cup of water or juice after a meal, but also frustrates us as drink servings are much smaller than their on-land counterparts. Taste buds are less effective when they’re dried out.

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Flavor

Interestingly enough, not all aspects of taste are relinquished when you board the plane and reach 30,000 feet. Sour, bitter, and spicy flavors are basically unaffected. So, when given the choice between a spicy dish and a sweet dish, one should always choose the former if desiring a flavorsome experience during your flight. Airlines are aware of the altered taste buds, so they will add more salt and sugar to products to enhance their flavor. Anyone focused on health will want to be aware of these additions.

Cooking conditions

While science has explained why plane food tastes so bad, it is also served in trying conditions. It is cooked on the ground, packed, blast-chilled, refrigerated, and heated using a convection oven (dry air is blown all over the food, substituting for a microwave). However, through the study of the science behind taste, airlines are starting to adapt to the conditions and take advantage of the flavors that are enhanced in the air.

What is being done? Science.

  • Singapore has a simulated flight cabin to test the taste of their in-flight food options.
  • Umami, the fifth taste (behind savory, sweet, sour, and bitter) that few know much about, is unaffected by altitude. For example, soy sauce and tomatoes will be utilized more prominently in flights to improve the dining experience.
  • British Airways developed a nasal spray used to clear the nose prior to food consumption. However, it wasn’t popular with passengers.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones are becoming a key tool in altering the perceived environment, blocking out the engine hum. They will also utilize music that improves the taste of certain foods.
  • Some airlines are removing plastic cutlery in the belief that it projects a bad food taste before the passenger brings the meal to their mouth.
  • Quality wine taste is also compromised when hitting high levels of altitude, as liquids expand and contract in such conditions. Low-acid levels are the key, which rules out an in-flight champagne.

Conclusion

With these experiments and potential solutions, it is clear that airlines are doing all they can to research and discover ways to improve the in-flight dining experience. When faced with a lengthy flight, one can either sacrifice their sweet or acidic favorites for a umami option, or deal with the rebellious taste buds dried out in the pressurized environment. Maybe everyone should just fly when they have a cold?

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Published on June 29, 2020

8 Best Air Purifiers for a Healthy Home

8 Best Air Purifiers for a Healthy Home

Whether you suffer from allergies, have pet friends, or live in a climate where bacteria thrive, the best air purifier will make sure that your home’s air is clean and fresh at all times. We all clean our houses regularly, but it is easy to look over the most important element in our homes, apart from the surfaces, and that’s air. Thanks to the best air purifier, the air in your home will be more breathable and cleaner.

Why You Should Trust Us

If you are looking for which best air purifier is for you, we here at Lifehack have put in the time and effort to find it. There are so many to pick and choose from, so we sifted through dozens to find purifiers suitable for many people.

For these air purifier reviews, we will be suggesting home filters based on three criteria:

  • CADR: The rating that’s used to determine an air purifier’s effectiveness.
  • Room Size: The area that an air purifier takes up in a room.
  • Noise: How loud and distracting it can get.

With these in mind, here are the suggestions for the best air purifiers you can get.

1. Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier

    If you’re looking for an ozone air purifier, this is a solid option. The HEPA filter is capable of capturing up to 99.97% of airborne pollutants, dust mites, and more. The filters provided are able to be washed, and the air purifier has a CADR of 360 square feet. It’s suitable for kitchens and medium to large bedrooms or living spaces.

    That said, the air purifier does have some issues with the sensor, particularly in the auto mode. You’re also stuck with the color of this air purifier as is: black.

    Buy this Air Purifier!

    2. Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier

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      When considering an alternative, we suggest Blueair’s air purifier. It’s an air purifier that addresses allergies and is safe for pets. It’s able to capture 99% of airborne pollutants and is capable of filtering odors from smoking, pets, cooking, and wildfires. Even the sound it makes isn’t loud. The lowest setting is a sound equivalent to a whisper, and the highest is a sound equivalent to rainfall.

      One downside is the fact this filter is relatively small and is meant to be stationed on the floor. It’s about as tall as a small child, so it’s easy for children to stick their fingers or other objects into the air cleaner. Also, considering the size, it’s not built to handle larger rooms unless you get multiple. Even then, customers noted that the sound could be irritating when using multiple filters in a room.

      Buy this Air Purifier!

      3. Hathaspace Smart True HEPA Air Purifier

        For the best air purifier for your money, the Hathaspace air purifier is a good option. It allows you to adjust settings manually and works well as an air purification system capable of capturing 99.97% of air pollutants, gas, and more. It also comes with a 2-year warranty, so it’s not as risky as other brands that may only have a month or three-month warranty.

        That said, many customers noted that it’s not good at keeping back odors as much. The air purifier has a tendency to shut off when the air quality is good, regardless of if the room smells bad.

        Buy this Air Purifier!

        4. GENIANI Home Air Purifier

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          The air purifier from Geniani is another solid option for those looking to fight off allergies and want efficiency in their air purifier. The air cleanser comes with a 2-year warranty and is known for its power while still remaining quiet. You can choose between three speeds, and it even has a nightlight option, too.

          All in all, it’s a great product, though people struggled a little bit with the nightlight option. The light is a little too bright when it’s in the dark, making it disruptive if you’re the type of person who prefers completely dark rooms when sleeping.

          Buy this Air Purifier!

          5. Honeywell HFD-120-Q QuietClean Oscillating Air Purifier

            Another consideration for air purifier home use is Honeywell’s air purifier. One of the big perks from this air cleanser is that the three filters are able to be washed and used permanently, saving you the struggle of buying additional filters. The company also provides replacement filters should the filters perform poorly or get worn down. Beyond that, it’s capable of capturing 99% of air pollutants and is energy efficient, too.

            The air purifier itself is quiet, however, and if you allow it to swivel, the parts themselves could make a loud squeaking sound after a while. It’s also not as strong as other air purifiers around, with customers noting that a ceiling fan may be better.

            Buy this Air Purifier!

            6. PARTU Air Purifier

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              Another cheap option is the PARTU air purifier. Some of the main selling points is that it has an ultra-silent sleep mode, a 4-step filtration process, and serves as a night light thanks to the color ring on it.

              Similar to other small filters, this filter isn’t going to be very strong. Furthermore, many customers noted that the filter emitted a sweet scent from it after a while.

              Buy this Air Purifier!

              7. LEVOIT Air Purifier

                The LEVOIT air purifier is a compact air cleaner that actually is actually quite strong for its size. Its CADR is high enough it can cover a 219 square foot space. And although it’s strong, it’s designed to make minimal noise. Pair that up with it being ozone-free and energy-efficient, and you have a solid air cleaner.

                However, like most other air filters you’ll find, it is good at cleaning the air but isn’t as strong when dealing with odors in particular. Furthermore, despite its strength, it struggles to handle larger rooms, making it more suitable for small rooms.

                Buy this Air Purifier!

                8. Coway White HEPA Air Purifier

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                  The final filter that we have found is this one from Coway. It’s designed to handle room sizes of up to 361 square feet, offers a 4-stage filtration system, and also has an eco-mode to conserve energy when it’s done filtering.

                  One of the largest criticisms for this air purifier is that the fan settings range widely from the noise pollution. Some customers compared the settings between 2 and 3 to a weaker version of the 1st setting (barely making a sound) to a jet engine starting up. Some people also noted that the air purifier tends to wobble and shake, too.

                  Buy this Air Purifier!

                  FAQ

                  Q: Do air purifiers really work?
                  A: In short, yes. An air purifier consists of one filter (or more) and a fan that pulls in and circulates the air. Exactly like water filters, the idea is that the home air purifiers will capture all of the pollutants and particles before pushing out the rest of the air.

                  As for the filters, depending on the brand, you’ll have different kinds of filters. Filters can be made of paper, fiberglass, or mesh.

                  So long as you are taking care of the air purifier by replacing the filters on occasion, an air purifier should work smoothly and without any major issues.

                  Q: Can HEPA Air Purifiers prevent Covid-19?
                  A: Unfortunately, there is no air purifier that can do anything to prevent or kill the coronavirus. As mentioned above, air purifiers focus on collecting particles and pollutants. 

                  As such, an air purifier, HEPA or any air cleaner, can capture the virus, but the virus will be able to live within the filter for a period of time.

                  Final Thoughts

                  The market is filled with all kinds of air purifiers, and overall, many of them are capable of handling air quality. That said, there may be slight issues depending on what you’re looking for. No matter the case, you are taking the risk of potentially getting a purifier that may run into issues with smells or making too much noise. It’s part of the territory it seems. However, any one of the above air purifiers will help clean up the air and leave your house at least a little fresher. 

                  More Tips on Improving Air Quality

                  Featured photo credit: Progressive Insurance via unsplash.com

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