Why does my bread smell like chemicals?

In this brief guide we will address the question, “why does my bread smell like chemicals?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how to avoid the “chemical” taste, and how to tell if your bread has gone bad.

Why does my bread smell like chemicals?

Your bread smells like chemicals due to wild yeast contamination that can occur after the baking process. The post-processing yeast contamination can occur during cooling, slicing, or packing. It could be due to other reasons like using flour that has been bleached or treated with other chemicals. But mostly, it is due to more yeast or over-proofing. 

Bread is a fermented product, and this is a characteristic nature of the fermentation process where yeast converts the sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol. While baking, the quantity of yeast and proofing time is a critical step where this fermentation will take place. 

While baking, this smell goes away, but you might notice that your bread has started to smell off after a day or two in the pantry. Don’t you worry! It is natural. You are not feeding your kids alcohol or anything like that. Whenever there is adequate temperature, the fermentation process will continue and minute quantities of alcohol will be produced. 

With homemade bread, the chemical smell is usually observed after a day or two. If you notice the chemical smell immediately after proofing and baking, then it means the ingredients were probably contaminated during the process, and you need to take proper hygiene measures.

Why does my bread smell like acetone?

Following are the main reasons why bread smells like acetone or gives off a chemical smell

  • Contamination by wild yeast
  • Bread is past its expiration date

Why does my bread smell weird? 

The bread usually smells weird when it has gone bad. Avoid eating it or closely smelling it if you can see visible mold on it. Another reason why bread smells weird is because of sugars converted into alcohol or due to excessive fermentation.

Is it safe to eat bread that smells like chemicals? 

If your bread is homemade and you’re sure about the ingredients, then it is perfectly safe to consume such a loaf. Like mentioned earlier, it is only a smell that wild yeast gives during the fermentation process. Moreover, you can even get rid of this smell by baking the bread in the oven. The “chemicals” will most likely evaporate. 

Many people refer to this smell like that of a nail polish remover, beer, vinegar, or alcohol. No matter what you might sense, it is mostly the yeast that is the main culprit. You should know that your bread is not undercooked, and it is safe to consume. However, the taste or the aroma may seem off owing to the fermentation process. 

What can you do about the smell? 

You can avoid the chemical taste by changing the type of yeast you are using in your bread making process. This can also be a result of using certain unhygenic measures like not cleaning the utensils and cross-contamination with other things in the kitchen. Your bread will be safe to consume with a bit off odour, but be sure to look out for any signs of spoilage discussed in the next part of this question. If you notice any of these signs, you should discard the load immediately and start preparing a new one.

Other methods to avoid such a problem include reducing the quantity of yeast, replacing hot water with cold in the preparation of dough, and reducing the proofing time of dough. You can read more about this here.

Other FAQs about Bread which you may be interested in.

Why does my sourdough bread smell like alcohol?

Why does my baking bread smell like vinegar?

Why does my bread dough smell sour?

How to tell if your bread has gone bad? 

Like mentioned earlier, the best by date is just an estimate and your bread may still be fresh past this date. Therefore, as long as you are aware of the signs of spoilage, the bread will be safe to consume. Here are some classical indicators that help you identify that the bread is no longer fresh or safe to consume. 

  1. Mold

Mold is a type of fungus that grows in different colours. It could be black, green, white, or pink. If you see such a growth or color formation on your bread, you should discard it immediately. 

  1. Unpleasant odor 

This is perhaps the most common technique while handling any food product. Simply discard the loaf when you notice the odour of the bread has changed. It indicates either the presence of a contaminant or the growth of microorganisms. 

No, you might not want to discard it when there is any smell that matches that of an alcohol or a similar substance, because this is just a result of fermentation. We are talking about a characteristic pungent or a stale smell. This type of smell indicates that mould growth has started to take place. This is just one step before you start to see visible mold growth on the bread.

  1. Strange taste or hard texture

Even if your bread passes the first two indicators, and then does not taste right, it is better to just throw it away and not take any risks. Health is wealth! 

Similarly, if you leave your bread out in the open for too long, the bread will go stale and turn dry. This is also an indicator that your bread has now gone bad and it is time to throw it away. 


In this brief guide we have addressed the question, “Why does my bread smell like chemicals?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how to avoid the “chemical” taste and how to tell if your bread has gone bad.





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