OK, so I tried it with the baking soda this time, and at some point I had to move the DIY
setup to the other side of the tank. The second that tube came out of the water, I was holding my breath--boy it stinks like hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs and worse)... GROSS!!!
So, my conclusion is: I'm not the psycho that you thought I was 8O .
WITHOUT the baking soda, the mixture smells surprisingly good. WITH the baking soda, it smells revolting!!!!
Just another 2 cents, though... I put together a solution *without* the baking soda, in a 2 litre, and it lasted me 5-6 weeks!! So, if it is getting very acidic with all the carbonic acid in the water, the yeast bacteria are still surviving...