How to Avoid Improper Use of Smelling Salts

How to Avoid Improper Use of Smelling Salts

Ammonium carbonate and sodium chloride are combined to make smelling salts, which are used to revitalize or stimulate the senses. Smelling ammonia salts and ammonia inhalants are some alternative names. Nowadays, the majority of smelling salts you come across are actually aromatic spirits of ammonia, which are a combination of ammonia, water, and alcohol. 

Early Romans were the first to utilize smelling salts for dizziness or fainting, but they gained popularity in the Victorian era. Today, some sportsmen utilize them as a pre-game or pre-lifting boost.

Continue reading to find out more about smelling salts, including their short- and long-term effects, potential hazards, and how to use them properly.

What Exactly Are Smelling Salts?

Usually, a mixture of diluted ammonia, water, and ethanol makes up sniffing salts. They could potentially be a blend of perfume and ammonium carbonate. A physical stimulant is provided by both solutions. The ammonia in a smelling salt, which irritates a person's nasal and pulmonary membranes when inhaled, is what gives them their stimulating effects.

As a result, the person begins to breathe more quickly and involuntarily inhales, which increases the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. In the past, medical professionals have used smelling salts to assist fainting patients. However, due to their stimulating impact, athletes nowadays who want to boost performance occasionally take smelling salts.


How Do Smelling Salts Work?

When you sniff smelling salts, ammonia gas is released, irritating the membranes of your nose and lungs. This irritation makes you involuntarily inhale, which starts breathing and ramps up the oxygen supply to your brain. This makes you start to breathe more quickly.  This increase in breathing and heart rate may aid in bringing you back to consciousness if you've blacked out.

What Are the Long-Term Consequences?

When taken as instructed, there isn't much proof to date that smelling salts have long-term consequences. Most individuals can safely use smelling salts as a therapeutic aid in small amounts.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that smelling salts, particularly when used in higher amounts, can occasionally result in headaches. Though they are uncommon, allergic reactions are sometimes possible.

However, it is advised only to use smelling salts when directed to do so by a medical practitioner.

What Are the Short-Term Consequences?

A variety of reactions can arise quickly from the smell of salts. If you've fainted, smelling salts can help restore consciousness quickly since they stimulate breathing. However, most individuals use smelling salts to sharpen their focus and alertness. 

Many sportsmen believe that this temporary gain in cognitive function also boosts their strength. However, evidence from studies suggests that using ammonia salts won't actually make you stronger. It might have more of a psychological impact brought on by sharper attention.

What Are the Possible Risks?

Concerns regarding the potential risks of improper-smelling salt use have been expressed by several medical professionals. Among the issues are:

Exceeding Limitations. You might push yourself above your comfort zone or in ways you haven't yet trained for if taking smelling salts makes you feel extremely energized or focused. This could raise your chance of injury.

Ignoring Wounds. After an injury, ammonia smelling salts could make you feel better momentarily. It might be simpler for you to push through the discomfort and continue. However, continuing in this manner if you are gravely hurt could have negative effects.

Aggravating Neck or Head Injuries. Your head will normally jerk as you inhale, which could aggravate head and neck problems.

The use of salts for the gym to treat dizziness or other side effects of concussions or head injuries sustained in contact sports is of particular concern. Some athletes take gym-smelling salts to return to the game as soon as possible. However, after a concussion, it's crucial to get some rest. Doing too much can increase your risk of future injury or a concussion and delay healing and worsen your symptoms.

Uses for Smelling Salts

Smelling salts are available in a few different varieties. There are one-time-use, single capsules that you snap open, inhale and then dispose of. Additionally, you can purchase sniffing salts in bottles that you can reuse often. To use them, simply open the top of the jar, sniff the mixture, and then close it once more.

It's simple to use smelling salts. Simply place the capsule or bottle under your nose and inhale. Don't hold the smelling salts any closer than six inches if you've never used them before. The effect will take place immediately.

Smelling salts are a stimulant, and like any stimulant, you should use them cautiously to avoid any adverse health effects and develop a tolerance that would cause the smelling salts to lose their ability to enhance adrenaline.

How to Prevent Misusing Smelling Salts

Smelling salts are accepted and permitted for usage in Australia to revive the unconscious. Exercise caution if you're using them for anything other than treating fainting as they haven't been authorized for athletic performance or other activities.

Hold smelling salts at least 10 centimeters (4 inches) away from your nose when using them. The salts can work without endangering your nasal passages if you keep them between 10 and 15 centimeters away from your nose.

It is advised to avoid using smelling salts if you have asthma or any other respiratory health difficulties. It's possible that using smelling salts will aggravate your issue.

Never be afraid to speak with your healthcare physician if you have any concerns about using smelling salts, including whether or not they are safe for you to use. They can respond to your questions and provide you with additional details on the proper application of smelling salts.


People who have fainted have been brought back to life for millennia using smelling salts. Athletes also use them to get a fast energy boost or focus, and feel it gives them a psychological boost. Even though smelling salts are generally harmless, it's crucial to utilize them properly as instructed. They can have a lasting impact if used excessively or held too close to the nose.

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