TikTok users have complained that they cannot smell gasoline for the past few weeks.
These posts are wildly popular with many people confirming that they can no longer smell gas at gas stations or from buckets.
Many people have offered suggestions on what could be the cause, from mass delusion to government-diluting gasoline theories. Many other users also tried it, puffing gas like the cast of Always Sunny.
Dilution of ethanol can explain why gasoline smells different. Although some people incorrectly claimed this was a government plot to increase gas prices, gasoline can actually contain ethanol at around 10 percent. The fuel is made with a higher octane to resist detonation in engines. Ethanol is more affordable than high-octane gasoline.
Ethanol is often made with corn. This makes it a significant source of income for the American corn industry. It is therefore politically important that presidential candidates support its continued use.
Recently, the Biden administration set 2022 gasoline levels for ethanol. This was partly to reduce gasoline prices after a rise in oil prices and also to decrease our dependence on oil. Some people may have sensitive noses to the change. However, it is possible that there could be a simpler explanation.
It's possible that gasoline is no longer a pleasant odor, much like scented candles are subject to worsening reviews due to COVID-19. Although we don't know for sure, we can speculate based on the data we have about scented candles thanks Internet sleuth Kate Petrova.
Petrova began to look into reviews for scented candles in order to find a pattern. And wouldn't it be? There was a steady decline in reviews since the start of 2020.
We all know that correlation does not equal causation. People who are forced to stay home may decide they don't like looking at candles anymore or that they want to vent their anger on candles instead of the people they live with.
This does however seem to have some merit. Petrova found that scented candles had a much higher drop in ratings than unscented candles when he compared their reviews.
The contrast is even more stark when you compare the data starting in 2020.
Petrova, still not having done enough research, decided to quantify data and take into consideration reviews that specifically mentioned a lack in scent. Petrova expanded her search to include reviews from top five scented candles across four brands, as not enough people are willing to write full reviews.
The data clearly shows that people complain about the diminished smell of candles, when they should be booking a COVID-19 testing. This is similar to someone complaining about the fuzzy picture on their HDTV.
Although it is possible that this is what is happening to gasoline, there isn't any direct evidence.