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It's that time of year again on the farm -- THE REMEDY for "Eau de skunk"

 
Deb Stephens
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Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Forget tomato juice or vinegar or whatever else you may have been told will take the odor of skunk out of your dog's fur (or your clothes!) or anything else. Not only are most of those remedies a complete waste of time because they just don't work, but most of them are downright expensive. Here is the only solution that does work--what's more it costs just pennies to make. This is taken directly from the Skunk Remedy Recipe page. (I have used this for years -- both to cure skunk smell off my dogs--at least once every year for the last decade or so) AND to completely get rid of cat urine and other odors. This really works. I swear by it! (You can make smaller quantities in cup or bowl if you don't have a big smell to clean. The following is for a major dog wash post skunk encounter...)

webpage

The Skunk Remedy Recipe

In a plastic bucket, mix well the following ingredients:

1 quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide

1/4 cup of baking soda

1 to 2 teaspoons liquid soap

for very large pets one quart of tepid tap water may be added to enable complete coverage.

Wash pet promptly and thoroughly, work the solution deep into the fur. Let your nose guide you, leave the solution on about 5 minutes or until the odor is gone. Some heavily oiled areas may require a "rinse and repeat" washing.
Skunks usually aim for the face, but try to keep the solution out of the eyes - it stings. If you have any cuts on your hands you might want to wear latex gloves for the same reason.

After treatment, thoroughly rinse your pet with tepid tap water.

Pour the spent solution down the drain with running water.

NEVER, ever, store mixed solution in a closed bottle, sprayer,etc. Pressure will build up until the container bursts. This can cause severe injury.

**********Notes**************

1) Clean plastic mixing containers and utensils are preferred. Metals encourage auto-decomposition of the peroxide.

2) Hydrogen Peroxide 3% solution is usually sold in pint (500ml) bottles, so you'll need two. The 3% grade is often marked "U.S.P.", meaning that it meets the standards for medical use and purity as set forth in the United States Pharmacopoeia.

The use of other strengths/grades is not recommended unless you're a chemist, and even then a trip to the 24-hour drugstore is much better than a trip to the emergency room.

3) Use baking soda, not baking powder. "Arm and Hammer" is one popular brand. Baking soda is also called: Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate, U.S.P., Bicarbonate of Soda, and Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate. Do not confuse any of the above with Washing Soda, which is Sodium Carbonate. Washing Soda is about 100 times more alkaline than Baking Soda and can cause skin burns to both you and your pet.

4) Two preferred brands are "Softsoap" and "Ivory Liquid". As far as auto-decomposition of the peroxide is concerned, the surfactant package in these two is fairly inert. Heavy-duty grease-cutting brands such as "Dawn" are less inert, and hair shampoo is probably the worst.

5) Once mixed, the peroxide slowly breaks down into water and oxygen gas. Thus it gets weaker with time and so it should be used promptly. The exact rate depends on temperature, pH, and catalysts such as trace amounts of metals (iron,etc.) in the soap and/or tap water.

How much pressure will the complete decomposition of 3% hydrogen peroxide produce in a closed container It depends on how full the container is. Assuming negligible solubility of Oxygen in water, a bottle half-full of peroxide will develop about 140 psi. A bottle 3/4 full would develop 420 psi. This can do a lot of damage.

Highly pure hydrogen peroxide decomposes very slowly if kept cool and in a dark place, a few percent a year. The more dilute solutions usually decompose faster (due to impurities in the dilution water) and have a trace of stabilizer added. So why aren't the bottles in the store bloated or bursting ? Look carefully inside the cap... you'll see some very tiny holes in the cap liner to let the oxygen gas escape. A good reason to always store bottles upright.

Look for an expiration date on your peroxide. If you're using stuff which has been sitting around in your medicine cabinet for years, buy fresh peroxide.

6) Tepid: lukewarm.

7) All brand names mentioned in this website are trademarks of their various owners.
 
John Elliott
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Excellent advice.

To point out the chemical reasoning behind it, you want to oxidize the butyl mercaptan (essence of skunk) to less smelly compounds, which the soap can then wash away. Hydrogen peroxide will do that, so will bleach. The five percent solution that is the most common bleach sold in stores is too strong to use and may attack the skin as well, so you want to dilute it up. A couple of tablespoons of bleach in a quart of water still works, but is OK on skin for a short while (peroxide, bleach, you are going to be rinsing these off after a few minutes).

I'd also point out this method of cleaning with oxidizing solutions also works on poison ivy.

And do heed the warnings, hydrogen peroxide WILL generate high pressures of oxygen if it decomposes in a sealed container.
 
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