By Darren Warner
Like germs, smells are omnipresent. Hormones, chemicals, what we eat and even where we live affect how we smell. Regardless of the sourcewhite tailsand other wildlife quickly learn to associate human scents with danger, avoiding hunters like the plague. The trick is to prevent deer and other creatures from winding you up.
Oh, if only it were that easy! Scientists have discovered that whitetails can smell human scent further than bloodhounds and can detect up to six different scents at once. That means that scent cover you put on before the hunt doesn't necessarily prevent deer from smelling your body odor, the fuel you pumped on the way to the stand, or that pepperoni pizza you ate for lunch, smell.
To combat whitetail supersniffers, the hunting industry has developed a plethora of high-tech odor control technologies. Things like zeolite, engineered polymers, activated carbon, and antimicrobial silver aren't science fiction. They are the ultimate in human odor control and have been proven in laboratory tests to prevent or eliminate human odors. But none of these technologies can eliminate 100 percent of odors 100 percent of the time.
Therefore, you should never ignore the wind direction when hunting. But when used properly, and coupled with a comprehensive odor elimination program, today's odor control technologies will help you fool a deer and fill your mark. Let's take a look at today's most popular odor control technologies, explaining where they come from, how they work, and how they help hide a hunter's presence.
Like many other technological innovations, zeolite is not new, but its use in the hunting industry is. Zeolite is a naturally occurring mineral formed when volcanic ash reacts with alkaline groundwater. Its highly porous structure makes it an odor collection machine that traps and removes odors from the environment.
The first known use of zeolite was by the Romans to filter the water running through their aqueducts. Engineers began filtering wastewater in the 1970s.
ammonia and decontaminate the radioactive material. Today, synthetic zeolite has countless uses, from cleaning up pollution to filtering swimming pools. What makes it so valuable is that it can be chemically altered to capture molecules of different sizes.
"We have developed synthetic zeolite that targets human odorant molecules of different sizes," said Mark Estrada, Director of Fish and Game Productsunder armor. "Then we infuse antimicrobial silver agents into the zeolite molecules to destroy the bacteria that cause human odors."
synthetic zeoliteunder armoruses only human odors adsorbed. Does not pick up smells of gasoline, cigarette smoke, deer urine, or other odors associated with hunters.
Video that might interest you
Notice I didn't say zeoliteabsorbedStink. in theAbsorption, something penetrates the molecules of an absorbent and changes its chemical structure. Not how,AdsorptionIt occurs when odors stick to the surface of an adsorbent.
Under Armor claims its Scent Control hunting apparel lasts 10 times longer than carbon-based technologies. That doesn't mean Scent Control is any more effective than activated charcoal.
"We're not claiming numbers, just that our Scent Control garments last longer and can recover almost 100 percent after 50 washes," added Estrada.
Reactivating clothing with synthetic zeolite is easy: just toss it in the wash. "All odors are removed and the clothes are recharged through regular laundering," said Eddie Stevenson, Under Armor marketing consultant. “Just use odorless detergent and no UV brighteners. No need to dry [in a tumble dryer].”
When it comes to purification and filtration, nothing beats activated carbon. Also known as activated carbon, the Egyptians used carbon filtration to purify air and water. Today it is used in industrial purification plants, for air filtration in cars, and is even ingested when someone ingests poison.
The term "activated" means that the carbon is processed so that it has a surface covered with tiny pores that chemically absorb or trap odor molecules that come in contact with them. The surface of the activated carbon granules is covered with so many microscopic pores that a single gram can have a total surface area of 500 square meters.
In 2012,Scent-Lok introduced a carbon alloy, a new innovation that combines activated carbon, zeolite and a new treated carbon to capture different types of human odors. Activated charcoal is naturally derived from coconut shells, while treated charcoal is produced through a proprietary process that modifies charcoal particles to enhance the adsorption of certain odor molecules.
"Our activated charcoal, zeolite and treated charcoal are blended to target specific human odors such as those caused by bacteria, hormones and bad breath," said Greg Stuhlmann, President of Scent-Lok.
For years, Scent-Lok has used Intertek, an international testing company specializing in textiles, to test the effectiveness of its carbon-based technology. One test involves applying 3 milliliters of a synthetic human fragrance to various carbon alloy fabrics in cycles zero, one, five, 10 and 20 washing and drying. The results showed that the company's carbon-based technology captured 96 to 99 percent of concentrated human odor.
To remove unwanted odors and regenerate carbon-based clothing, place in a tumble dryer on high heat for 40 minutes. Even thoughsome claim the opposite, Scent-Lok said that independent tests have shown that domestic dryers emit temperatures high enough to regenerate your clothes. You can also get rid of adsorbed odors by placing the clothes in an airtight container and filling it with ozone.
earlier this year,Robinson outdoor productshas completely revamped its popular ScentBlocker line of odor-fighting clothing with the introduction ofTrinity-Technologie, an engineering polymer resin that traps human odors. The synthetic material bonded to the fabric in ScentBlocker garments contains macropores that provide a large surface area for human odorant molecules to penetrate and micropores to trap them.
"Macropores are like entrances to a cave," explains Keith Edberg, Operations Manager at Robinson. "Once odors pass through the macropores, they are trapped by the micropores."
Robinson used several independent labs to test Trinity and found that it can absorb human odors 40 percent more than activated charcoal and 200 percent more than zeolite. This doesn't necessarily mean Trinity performs better in the field, just that it can capture more human scent molecules.
"Like all odor adsorption technologies, our fabric must come into contact with odors in order for them to be captured," Edberg said. "If you give the smell an easy outlet, it accepts it. Do not leave the top of the jacket or the cuffs open. You have to force smells through the fabric.”
Like Carbon Alloy, you can regenerate Trinity clothes by putting them in a tumble dryer on high heat for 40 minutes. Robinson Outdoors recommends washing Trinity clothing only when soiled, as washing will break down the fabric more quickly.
Like zeolite, antimicrobial technology is not new. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks used antimicrobials to treat infections more than 2,000 years ago. An antimicrobial agent is an agent that kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria. Unlike activated charcoal and zeolite, which lock in human odors, antimicrobials actually penetrate the cell walls of bacteria and prevent them from multiplying.
Antimicrobial materials such as silver are applied to fabrics to control human odors. Remember that an antimicrobial destroys the bacteria that are the cause of many human odors; It does not affect odors once they have formed.
"Antimicrobials reduce bacteria next to the skin, which reduces the odors that emanate from the bacteria," said Stuhlmann. “Scientists have identified more than 350 human odors, and only a few are related to the bacteria that live on your body. Antimicrobials do not affect human odors from other sources.”
For example, sulfur and sulfur compounds found in breath odors are often caused by medication, diet, and general health. Antimicrobials have no effect on removing these odors. It's also important to note that an antimicrobial must come in contact with bacteria for it to work. You can't "grab" bacteria from the air or somehow attract microorganisms.
Today, a large number of companies use antimicrobials in hunting apparel, deodorant sprays, body washes, and laundry detergents. Scent-Lok uses AEGIS; a proprietary antimicrobial agent developed by a private company. AEGIS permanently bonds to fabric throughout the life of the garment, preventing odor build-up. Scent-Lok also adds proprietary enzymes to its Base Slayers, Field Sprays, Body and Hair Washes, and Carbon Reactivating Cleansers.
Similar,Cousinsuses a combination of colloidal silver and enzymes in itsControl freak lineOdor control products. Colloidal silver consists of silver particles that have been microscopically dispersed in another substance (often a liquid) during the manufacturing process.
"Control Freak alters the molecular structure of certain chemicals responsible for human odors and turns them into something that doesn't smell human," said Jason Harris, product manager at Primos.
Hunter's specialtiesIt also produces a litany of odor-fighting products under its popular Scent-A-Way line, including field spray, antibacterial soap, shampoo and conditioner, laundry detergent, and antiperspirant.
"We use many different methods to combat odor, including encapsulation, oxidation, neutralization and bioconversion," said David Forbes, co-founder of Hunter's Specialties. "You can't get rid of a multitude of smells with a single approach."
Two years ago,Wildlife Research Center(WRC) launched Super Charged Scent Killer Spray, a proprietary blend of antimicrobials and enzymes that target a wide variety of human odors. "Our technology binds to odor molecules and prevents them from turning into gas," said WRC communications director Ron Bice.
Although WRC will not release the results of its study, the company claims tests conducted at Rutgers University found its latest product to be more than 99 percent effective at stopping replicated human odor.
Tinksuses another antimicrobial, Byotrol, to eliminate hundreds of odors produced by the human body and the environment. Byotrol was developed by the British company Byotrol PLC in 2000 and is used in hospitals and food processing plants worldwide. Byotrol's technology literally destroys microbes, leaving a layer that further kills bacteria and odors after drying on fabrics. Extensive testing has shown that Byotrol not only outperforms bleach, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol-based sanitizers, but is also safe to use on skin and other sensitive surfaces.
"We are the only company authorized to use Byotrol in the hunting industry," said Terry Rohm of Tink's. "Tests conducted in several countries have shown that it is effective in eliminating odors days or even weeks after its application."
None of the companies I spoke to have disclosed all the ingredients in their sprays, shower gels and shampoos. But everyone thinks their odor removing products kill human odors.
Ozone (O3) was first discovered in 1785 and is a natural gas found in the Earth's atmosphere. Today it is used to disinfect surgical instruments, destroy bacteria in food processing plants, and eliminate odors in public toilets.
Ozone is a very unstable gas, so it wants to attach itself to other molecules, including those that make up human odors. When it does, it changes the chemical composition of human odor molecules and eliminates human odor.
In 2007,ozonicwas the first to produce an ozone generator specifically for use in hunting. The company's HR-200 field ozone generator uses electrical current to convert oxygen molecules into ozone, and then blows it downwind of your location with a quiet fan. The HR-200 is designed to be mounted above the hunter's head on a bracket or on a ground blind, and because ozone molecules are heavier than air, they filter your scent stream as they move with the wind and bind to theirs Scent molecules which make them undetectable to deer and other game.
Please note that ozone can only alter odor molecules it comes into contact with. Swirling winds often carry your scent away from the curtain of ozone generated by the HR-200, meaning some of your scent can reach deer.
Ozone doesn't destroy all smells, it just turns them into something that doesn't smell human. And ozone itself has a mild odor that is more commonly described as something similar to chlorine.
"Our testing found that around 50 percent of all deer do not respond to ozone odors, while a small percentage smell something but do not recognize it as a human predator," said Dennis Fink, co-owner of Ozonics.
Although Ozonics holds a patent on the use of ozone in the field, many other companies make portable ozone generators designed to remove odors from clothing and hunting gear. In order for ozone to remove odors from clothing, boots, and hunting gear, it must be administered in a small, confined, and airtight space. Periodically disassemble and readjust hunting clothing during the decontamination process to ensure ozone is in contact with all fabric surfaces. And wear rubber gloves every time you handle sanitized clothing to prevent the transfer of odors from your hands to the sanitized clothing.
GET THE NEWSLETTERSubscribe to the list and don't miss anything.
Sign me up