Robert Hitt Neill column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Texas skunk-stink removal recipe sounds dangerous

I realize most folks don’t care anything atall about more on the subject of skunks, but so many readers wanted to know about washing with tomato juice after being sprayed – or better yet, after their dog or cat had been sprayed – that I felt compelled to do a follow-up column on the knowledge that I have acquired this past couple of weeks after taking the offensive against our Brownspur stinkers.

A reader from Texas was only one of the folks who one-upped me on the tomato juice bath, suggesting that a better solution would be a Bloody Mary Bath, a BM apparently being a common alcoholic remedy for certain illnesses, the which I really have no idea about, being a teetotaler.  

But many readers who endorsed the tomato juice bath also suggested adding vodka as an internal dosage, then rubbing down with the tomato juice, while chewing on a celery stick. Whatever works!

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However, several other recipes for skunk-spray remedies were advanced: mustard rub-downs, vinegar baths, sardine juice rubs (I used my sardine juice to saturate my bread-slice baits for the skunks in question), and toothpaste. However many tubes of toothpaste it would take to effectively mask skunk scent on a 200 pound man, I’d hate to think about buying. Not a pretty picture!

But the Texas reader – an experienced skunk-woman herownself, who claims to know the difference between a skunk and a polecat (it’s got something to do with the amount of white in the stripes, but she’s forgotten most of what she knows about that subject) – came up with a recipe that cries for sharing with the rest of the skunk-weary rural residents of our great nation.  

I should warn you now that it sounds somewhat dangerous, perhaps even illegal, and your neighbors may notify the Department of Homeland Security if they get wind of your production.

Her concoction consists of 1 quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, 1/4th cup of Baking Soda, and 2 tablespoons of Dishwashing Detergent (the sink kind, not the dishwasher kind).  

Mix these ingredients in a Large Bowl, for this stuff tends to boil up like an active volcano, she claims: “after all, you’re making an oxygen generator.”  

Wash with this – I’m assuming one is by this point either outside, or in the bathtub – while it is still foaming, “because it is the oxygen which reacts with the Thiols in the skunk stink to neutralize the odor.”  

That word “Thiols” is not in my Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary, but then I ain’t ever been sprayed by a Texas skunk. However, I have a Learned Friend, who says that a Thiol is a compound in which a sulfur atom replaces an oxygen atom. Sulfur Stink = Rotten Eggs = Skunk Juice: understand, now?

That Learned Friend admits to a recent live-trap expedition to rid his shop of a tunneling skunk.The animal was indeed humanely trapped, but objected strongly to the removal of his cage from the property, to the extent that: “We couldn’t even get our breath!”Well, duh!  Those Thiols have no oxygen atoms atall, do they?

If this concoction sits around, Miz Tex claims, it will lose its power, since all the oxygen (which reacts with the Thiols, of course) will boil off. And, “Do NOT try to store it in an airtight container, because it will BLOW UP.”  

See why you might be mistaken for a stinkin’ terrorist?

Now, I can go along with washing in tomato juice, but I’d really want to witness someone (not in OUR bathtub, Betsy says!) using and surviving this treatment before I would actually recommend it to my faithful readers.

So, if you get sprayed by a skunk and feel desperate enough to try this Texas recipe, please have your next of kin document your actions from a safe distance, and have them drop me a line at P.O. Box 6, Stoneville, MS 38776.  Pictures of the operation would of course be helpful, especially if you can actually catch the reaction of those pesky li’l ole Thiols when they are introduced to the foaming brew.

Come to think of it, a combination of two remedies might be helpful here: use the vodka from the Bloody Mary Bath recipe, taken internally, before mixing the Thiol-Cleansing recipe. In retrospect, I think I’d lean toward the first trial bath being outdoors instead of in a confined space like a bathtub, wouldn’t you?