What Causes Skunk Odor to Linger?


Quick Answer

Skunk odor lingers because the chemicals slowly release over a period of time. In order to get rid of the smell, a deodorizer needs to be used that neutralized the chemicals, not merely covers them.

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What Causes Skunk Odor to Linger?
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Full Answer

Skunk spray contains thiols, chemical compounds to which the human nose is incredibly sensitive. One element in thiols is sulfur, a component found in the aroma of rotten eggs. Other chemical compounds in skunk spray are thioacetates. These compounds break down very slowly over a long period of time, and as they break down, they convert into thiols and release the noxious smell.

Although tomato juice is often used as a way to remove the aroma of skunk, it merely covers up the smell. The human nose, when faced with a certain noxious smell, ignores it when a new, stronger smell is introduced. However, this effect does not last. To get rid of the smell, the affected area needs to be aired out. This helps to dissipate the chemicals. The source of the smell, such as an object or dog, should be removed.

If a specific surfaces smells, a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mixture can be applied to the item. Bleach helps to get rid of the odor as well, but should be used with caution when being applied to surfaces.

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