Whenever you smell something potent and unpleasant, it’s common to compare the smell to a skunk. It’s an odor we universally recognize as unpleasant. But why do skunks spray, and what’s in the potent concoction that makes it smell so bad?
Why do Skunks Spray?
You’re most likely to encounter a skunk at twilight, dawn and during a full moon. These are the times skunks are most active, a behavior that categorizes them as crepuscular. Skunks have a strong sense of smell and hear well, but they don’t have good eyesight. Despite this setback, skunks still have great aim when they decide to spray a perceived attacker.
Contrary to popular belief, spraying is not a skunk’s first line of defense. The animal will display aggressive behavior – hissing, stamping its feet and raising its tail as a warning sign – before it sprays. If these behaviors have no effect on the intruder, the skunk is adept at spraying its signature scent to ward off attackers. The tail goes up and the secretion is sprayed toward the target
What’s in Skunk Spray?
Skunks have scent glands located on either side of the anus, which produce an oily secretion containing sulfur compounds called thiols. Sulfur smells like rotten eggs, and thiols specifically are organic compounds also found in garlic and onions. It’s no surprise then that concentrated skunk odor can make your eyes water. The compounds are also volatile, meaning they disperse through the air and are picked up by the human nose with ease.
The backup ingredients in skunk spray are called thioacetates. At first, these compounds aren’t very smelly, but when they come in contact with water, their configuration rearranges and they become more potent. That’s why someone sprayed by a skunk often smells worse after bathing.
DIY Treatments to Get Rid of Skunk Odor
Everyone has heard of the myth that tomato juice gets rid of skunk odor. However, this really is just a myth, since the strong tomato smell does nothing more than temporarily mask the stench. If you, a pet or your property has been sprayed by a skunk, try this DIY treatment to eliminate the odor.
Mix up a batch of 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid soap. Add warm water if you need the solution to go further, such as if you’re de-skunking your property. Leave the solution on your skin or on your pet for at least five minutes. Rinse and see if the smell is gone. If not, repeat these steps.
Contact the Professionals for Help
Do-it-yourself tricks to get rid of skunk odor don’t always work, especially if the spray has lingered for a while. If the tactic outlined here fails to eliminate the smell, it’s time to call in the professionals for help.
Rainbow International® is an expert at odor removal. Whether the smell you want to get rid of was created by a skunk or another source, don’t just cover it up, eliminate it with our four-step odor removal process.
Don’t wait! The longer you let skunk odor linger, the harder it is to remove. Contact Rainbow International for immediate service.