Skunk Odor Removal
Over the years, as people and their animals have come into contact with skunks, they have inevitably been covered with the pungent odor, properly know as musk, that marks all skunk victims. Their attempts to rid themselves of this odor has led to many and various ways to get clean.

Striped skunk in the woods
Image Source: John Collins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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The most well known remedy is that you can remove skunk odor by rinsing in tomato juice. The truth is, the only thing you will accomplish in the process, is a large mess. While ineffective, the tomato juice will briefly mask the smell, giving the skunk victim a fleeting feeling of success! Just as with other new smells that at first overwhelm you, your nose can adjust to them. The same thing occurs with skunk musk. Known as "olfactory fatigue," this prevents you from smelling the musk for a short time. During this period, you are still able to smell the tomato juice, leading to the belief that it has removed the dreaded skunk odor. As soon as the nose has a short relief from the skunk musk, you'll find that the odor has returned-- when in fact, it never left.

The best way to actually remove the odor is to mix a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide with a quarter cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap. This will change the molecular structure of the skunk musk, and allow it to be washed away. This remedy was discovered by the chemist, Paul Krebaum, while working in the creation of the Indiglo watch. You can read the full story in Joe Schwarcz's fascinating book Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs: 67 Digestible Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life.

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