Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We bought a large package of dry rice vermicelli recently at our local Thai market. We've cooked it a couple of times, and both times once it starts to boil it gives off a chemical odor, sort of like lye or chlorine (not really either, but that kind of thing). It doesn't rinse off, though rinsing helps a bit. Once rinsed, the chemical smell is not strong enough that it's a problem if you have any kind of sauce on the noodles, but eaten plain they definitely have a chemical funk.

I haven't cooked with this style of rice noodle a lot (we usually do cellophane noodles, which seem different), so maybe this is normal. Can anybody tell me if this is something we should expect with this kind of noodle?

The package was new, clean, and in perfect condition, so if there was some kind of contamination it happened in the factory.

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I've made rice vermicelli many times, and I've never smelled anything like what you describe. I suggest throwing out the ones you have, and buying a different brand (or maybe shopping at a different store).

share|improve this answer

I would not eat those noodles. It sounds to me as if something like a cleaning compound was spilled on them in transit. If contact was prolonged, chemicals could pass through the packaging without it being unsealed, and a wipe with a cloth would make the package "look right".

share|improve this answer

I had the same experience, with the smell as described. I found this article about oxalic acid and tinopal being found in rice noodles, but it doesn't say whether it results in a smell. I don't have an ultraviolet lamp at home to check if that was the issue (as mentioned in the article).

share|improve this answer
Hi and welcome! That sounds interesting but maybe you could include a bit of a summary in your answer? Answers that rely on a link-only are discouraged because they aren't useful in the future if the link changes / dies. – PeterJ Mar 8 '15 at 12:14
Oxalic acid (which is harmless up to a certain dose, it is in a lot of leafy greens, those very rich in it are usually supposed to be cooked) and Tinopal (laundry brightener ,has no business in food) found in rice noodles. – rackandboneman Dec 6 '15 at 4:24
I've edited your answer to make it more clear that you actually don't know whether the article applies here - you and the OP noticed the smell, the article mentions oxalic acid and tinopal, but there's no connection. – Jefromi Dec 6 '15 at 21:26

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.