By Stacy E. Smith
The weather is warm and you and your pets are spending more and more time outdoors – at parks, on hikes and even camping. So, the odds of Fido getting into something smelly begin to increase exponentially.
Arguably, the smelliest thing anyone can encounter has got to be skunk spray. All of us have detected the distinct odor while driving on the highway or even wafting through the neighborhood at one time or another. There is no mistaking it. How many of you have actually had the pleasure of coming into contact with that smell only moments after it was sprayed – up close and personal? I am here to tell you that the odor you detect from the car is NOTHING compared to the freshly sprayed version. It is an assault on your olfactory system that really puts your gag reflex to the test.
Now, imagine that your dog comes happily bounding toward you smelling like he just tested every bottle of “eau de skunk” in the department store. It may very well officially be the single worst, gross thing that happens to you.
One of our regular writing contributors, Stu Tarlowe, published his favorite cure for eau de skunk several years ago in the pages of PAW PRINTS. Although it was a great remedy, it was not Stu’s own creation, but a cleanser he found that worked wonders for removing that very special odor.
You’d think, however, that if you had actually created, the hands-down, bar-none best way for dealing with a pet who has been skunked, you’d be able to sell your formula for a tidy sum and be set for life, right?
Wrong. At least, that’s not the way it worked for chemist Paul Krebaum, who created just such a magic formula in the 1990’s — and hasn’t gained a single thing for his trouble except the gratitude of pet lovers everywhere.
First, I’ll give you the recipe…
1. In a plastic bucket using plastic utensils mix together 1 quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (This is available from any drugstore. DO NOT USE ANY OTHER STRENGTH even if you happen to have it around the house for some reason – the result may be a trip to the emergency room), 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate for you science types which is not the same as baking powder) and 1- 2 teaspoons of liquid soap. Notes: Krebaum suggests “Softsoap” or “Ivory Liquid” because they are less inert. Grease-cutting brands such as “Dawn” are less inert and hair shampoo is probably the worst. For very large pets you may add one quart of tepid tap water to enable complete coverage. The reason for using plastic containers and utensils is because metals will encourage auto-decomposition of the peroxide.
2. Immediately apply it to the stinky pet (the solution will get weaker with time and you’ll definitely want it to be at full strength). Wash thoroughly, working solution deep into the fur. Leave solution on for about 5 minutes or until the odor is gone. Let your nose guide you. Some heavily oiled or “skunked” areas may require repeat washing. Note: skunks usually aim for the face, but try to keep the solution out of your pet’s eyes – it stings! If you have any cuts on your hands you should consider wearing latex gloves for the same reason.
3. Rinse your pet thoroughly with tepid tap water.
4. Pour the any left over solution down the drain with running water.
The result is by all accounts astonishing! Unfortunately, so will the explosion if you make up the solution and then try to bottle it. In case that was confusing it means DO NOT BOTTLE IT (or put it into any other closed container) to save for another time!!!! This is an actual, real life warning. The merging of the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda creates lots of oxygen in a big hurry. This chemical reaction is actually the key to how the solution works, but it’s also fierce enough to explode in a closed container. Unfortunately, this is also the reason Krebaum hasn’t been able to capitalize on his discovery. There’s just no way to sell something you can’t put in a bottle.
And it’s a shame, too, because from what I hear the man deserves some kind of reward or at least an award. According to plenty of testimonials (including some from our immediate family), the stuff really works. Unlike tomato juice, which merely turns the odor down a notch but ultimately leaves you with a slightly less-stinky and often pink dog. Commercial preparations can be purchased at most pet supply stores and seem to fare a little better, but even when you use them it’s the passing of time as the smell gradually wears off that seems to finally do the trick.
With Krebaum’s mixture, the trick is the oxygen, which grabs the molecules that go into that horrid smell. Once those molecules are snagged, the smell is neutralized. Poof! It’s simple chemistry, really.
Since Krebaum’s findings were published in a trade journal in the early 1990’s (if anyone is interested it was the Chemical & Engineering News, K.M. Reese published it in the “Newscripts” section on Oct. 18, 1993), his magic formula has spread far and wide, offered up by agriculture officials and hunting magazines, and touted by folks on the Internet (which is where I found it). The Chicago Tribune even gave him a nice write-up in 1994 that got picked up by newspapers all over the country. In it, Krebaum himself called his potion a “free-gift-to-humanity type deal.”
I had a Siberian Husky, Dakota that seemed to attract a skunk into every backyard in every house in which I resided during my 10 years living in Los Angeles. This dog was carted to the vet or groomer every other month or so to get a “double” skunk bath (I requested that the bath be given twice each time). It was a nightmare and the de-skunking solution only seemed to get some of the smell out. If only I had known about this then. Fortunately, I have not had the need for it since moving to Kansas City, but I will keep this recipe handy because Murphy’s Law is very powerful and must be respected. Save this article somewhere because the minute you need it, you won’t be able to find it.
I suppose I can’t really suggest that everyone grateful to Paul Krebaum send him a few dollars to make up for the royalties he’ll never see from his miracle skunk concoction. Besides, I have no idea where one would send the money anyway. So maybe it would be nice if you save this article for some time in the future when you or someone you love might really need it, and when you do, say a few silent words of thanks to the man whose invention will get you out of one stinky predicament.
This de-skunking recipe was reprinted with permission from the inventor, Paul Krebaum.
A little about Paul Krebaum: Married, 3 children. Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Bennington College. Also attended Rensselear Polytechnic Institute for 2 years. Worked in the cosmetics field for a few years, then joined Molex, Inc. Received 4 patents at Molex, U.S. 5,036,249; 5,456.616; 5,952,446; and 6,265,519. It was while working on the first patent that the skunk remedy was invented. He stayed 15 years with Molex before starting his own consulting business, The Adhesive Doctor.
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