Whoops! Instead of dutifully listening for the pops to decrease and stopping the microwave at the precise moment for guaranteed buttery perfection and maximum kernel detonation, you got distracted. Now you have an inedible black chunk smoldering in the microwave and a burnt popcorn odor lingering in your nostrils.
Burning a bag of popcorn is never fun, but the persistence of the burnt smell adds insult to injury. Every time you walk into the kitchen or open the microwave, there it is. To get rid of that lingering odor of burnt popcorn, it's best to truly send the smell packing rather than trying to mask it with a barrage of perfumes and incense.
Removing the Burnt Smell
To get rid of that burnt smell, open at least two windows and turn on any fans (ceiling or otherwise) to encourage rapid air circulation. Ventilating your home as much as possible will help the burnt smell exit your home. You can even open the closest exterior door and "fan it" to move air in and out of the doorway. Don't forget to leave the microwave door open to allow the odor to exit.
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If you're in an apartment or dorm room with a single window, this process might take a while. That's because you need to have a way for fresh air to come into the area and another way for old air to exit the area. To make the best of a single window, open the top half and bottom half at the same time. This will allow the air to enter one way and exit the other.
You can also speed up the process by setting a fan up in the window on a day with little to no breeze. It doesn't matter whether the fan points in or out as long as there's room for air to pass in the opposite direction somewhere in the room. If you have two fans, clear the smell of burnt popcorn even faster by facing one fan in toward the room and the other toward the outside.
Safely Dispose of Burnt Popcorn
According to Texas A&M, ventilation can only do so much to dilute an odor. You have to get rid of the source to get rid of the odor once and for all. But be careful! Throwing burnt popcorn in the trash could cause a trash fire.
If you've really burnt the popcorn and haven't just singed the edges, you're probably looking at a lump of material that looks like it belongs in a fireplace. In fact, it might be smoking or glowing slightly. The popcorn is very, very hot. You cannot simply bag it up and casually toss it (and its odor) out into the garbage bin to solve this problem.
Make sure the burnt popcorn cools off before you throw it away. To speed up the process and stop a potential popcorn fire in its tracks, put the stopper in your kitchen sink drain, carefully place the popcorn and bag in the sink (wear oven mitts) and run cold water over it until the entire mess is submerged. Break up the popcorn chunks with a spoon to accelerate the cooling process. Let the entire mess sit in the water for at least an hour before draining the water and throwing that popcorn out of your life forever.