Thursday, June 30, 2016

Time to learn about skunk spray

Back in the Project Trillium post you got to see Bell, our hound dog.  She's a very friendly dog who greets you with a wagging tail and she actually has her very own chair!  BUT, she IS a hound.

This spring she's honed her hunting skills and has managed to nab a turkey, a snake and just yesterday...  a skunk

The skunk didn't go peacefully.  Bell got sprayed from ear to tail and spent the night in a box in the garage after two baths...  So that got me curious.  What is it in skunk spray that makes it so horrible...

It's the thiols and acetate derivatives of these thiols... So what does a thiol look like?
The folks at Humbolt State University worked out the chemistry as shown below...



 Above are seven volatile compounds that exist in the spray.  If you live in a part of the world that has no skunks, you may never have experienced what these compounds smell like.  They are horrible, nauseating, and acrid to your olfactory.  The work at Humbolt is so cool! 

So how can you get rid of the odor?  The trick is to break down the Thiols into something that doesn't emit that obnoxious odor... fortunately there are chemical reactions that do the trick! For a pet you need something that won't hurt them, but will react with the thiols.

Forget about tomato juice, or other mythic solutions. What we need here is good old science!  As it turns out a combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda work very well... here's a recipe - should you ever need it!

Bell is now back in the house.  A little smarter about little creatures with whit stripes, a lot cleaner, and still just a bit "skunky."


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