Why would a rug washer be talking about skunks? Because victimized Fido panics and runs around the house. One of the worst odours to hit our noses has to be fresh skunk. And trying to get the smell out can be challenging. The odor is caused by a combination of chemical compounds which these animals can release from their scent glands when under str
ess or attack. In addition to smelling awful, the spray can cause vomiting and have effects similar to tear gas. As an interesting side note, the spray is also phosphorescent yellow, so it will glow in the dark.
The smell of skunk spray is caused by sulfurous compounds called thiols which combine to form a substance called mercaptan. These thiols have a strong odor, and mix with other chemicals which make the scent stick. This is why animals who have been sprayed sometimes have a faint odor for several weeks, because although the thiols have been mostly neutralized, trace amounts of them still cling to fur.
The formula is so pungent that it only takes a concentration of one in 10 parts per billion to cause us to stand to attention. However, while the impact may be insignificant in comparison, it’s interesting to note that the very same compounds are responsible for the bouquet associated with flatulence and bad breath in humans.
The following is sourced from Animal Planet. Many of the common recommendations, like bathing in a tub full of tomato juice, do little more than mask the unpleasant smell. The most effective antidotes are those that neutralize the spray’s main ingredients by changing them into different, non smelly compounds.
The reason that people think skunk spray and tomato juice cancel each other out is due to something known as olfactory fatigue, which is just another way of saying that your nose gets accustomed to a scent after a period of time. When your nose stops detecting the skunk spray, the strong smell of tomato juice tricks you into thinking it must have taken care of the problem. However, if another person were to enter the room, he or she wouldn’t be so easily fooled.
The only real way to get rid of the odor is to neutralize the thiols by changing them into compounds that your nose won’t recognize as being offensive. The way to do this is by adding oxygen in a process known as oxidation. When oxygen is added to the sulfur/hydrogen compound, odorless sulfonic acid is formed.
This may sound like a complicated process that only Bill Nye could successfully pull off, but it’s actually relatively simple. Many oxidizing agents, like hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, are readily available and safe enough to be used on people and pets. For things like clothing and furniture, regular chlorine bleach will get the job done.
So if curious Fido happens to frighten Pepe Le Pew, all you need to do is mix 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda and one teaspoon of liquid detergent and lather him up. After five minutes, rinse off your pup and he should be as good as new. Be warned: This potion may do a little more than take away the smell as it can also slightly change hair color. Also, you can’t store it in a closed container for the next time Pepe comes around because the mixture releases oxygen, that can explode the bottle.There are also a variety of commercial products available to eliminate skunk odors, but not all of them are safe for living things, so be sure to do your homework. Remember, it’s better to be smelly than sorry.