Home Medicine How Long Do Smelling Salts Last

How Long Do Smelling Salts Last

by Kristin Beck
How Long Do Smelling Salts Last

How Long Do Smelling Salts Last

“Smelling salts are a great way to get your friends and family in on the fun, as well as give them something interesting to talk about at parties or gatherings. However, many people aren’t sure how long these smelling salts actually last. How long can they be stored? And what does that mean for their effectiveness? Keep reading to find out!
What Are “”Scenting”” Salts?
The most common type of smelling salt is an alcohol-based solution containing ethanol (alcohol) and distilled water. Other types include solutions made from essential oils like peppermint oil. The active ingredient in all types of smelling salts is cromolyn sodium. It’s usually mixed with either ethanol or water. When sprayed into the air, it releases its distinctive smell — which may remind some people of rubbing alcohol, potpourri or even rotten eggs. In fact, the term “”scenting salt”” comes from this characteristic odor. This particular trait has led to the popularity of these salts among party goers and others who enjoy using them during special occasions and events.
Cromolyn sodium belongs to a class of drugs called histamine antagonists. Histamines cause inflammation, itching and other allergic reactions. By blocking histamine receptors, cromolyn sodium helps people breathe more easily by relaxing smooth muscle tissues in the lungs and nasal passages. But because of its ability to stop allergy symptoms, cromolyn sodium is also used to treat allergies, asthma, hay fever and hives. It is available over the counter without a prescription.
Is There Any Scientific Evidence For Their Effectiveness?
Yes, there is. Several studies have shown that smelly salts do relieve shortness of breath and help to open up blocked sinuses and breathing tubes. One study published in 2008 found that smelly salts were able to reduce congestion in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Another study showed that inhaling an aerosol spray containing cromolyn sodium significantly improved lung function in COPD sufferers.
But not all scientists agree on the usefulness of smelly salts. Some believe that while smelly salts can provide temporary relief from stuffy noses, they don’t offer enough olfactory power to effectively combat bad smells. They also contend that the salts’ effects are only temporary since we soon lose sensitivity to odors after repeated use. Still others say that smelly salts shouldn’t ever be used to treat runny noses because doing so could irritate sensitive tissue.
Despite the controversy surrounding the benefits of smelly salts, several clinical trials continue to prove their worth. A 2009 study by researchers at the University of California compared two different concentrations of cromolyn sodium spray — one that contained 1 percent and another that contained 2 percent — when applied directly to the nose. Both sprays provided similar levels of relief from congestion, but those who took the higher concentration reported feeling better than did the group that received the lower dose. The researchers concluded that high-concentration sprays might be more effective at treating stuffiness associated with colds and allergies.
Another study was conducted in 2007 by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to determine whether smelling salts would improve the success rates of endoscopic sinus surgeries. During this procedure, doctors remove polyps and other debris from the sinuses through small incisions inside the nose. To test the efficacy of smelly salts, the researchers randomly assigned 40 patients scheduled to undergo surgery to receive topical anesthesia alone or combined with 0.5 percent cromolyn sodium spray. All patients then had their sinuses irrigated with saline solution before surgery. Those who had been given the combination treatment experienced less pain during the procedures and generally required fewer doses of additional local anesthesia.
Other research indicates that smelling salts can ease the discomfort caused by allergies and sinus infections. In addition, some studies suggest that smelly salts may be beneficial for relieving headaches and migraines.
So, now you know that smelly salts work, but how long should you store them? Read on to learn why shelf life matters.
Storage Of Scenting Salts
One of the main reasons that people want to keep smelly salts around longer is so they can apply them to situations where immediate action is needed. If you’re planning to host a party or other event where guests will need to take advantage of the salts, make sure you’ve got plenty on hand. Keeping the bottles upright and away from heat and light will prolong the salts’ effectiveness.
Here are some general guidelines to follow:
Keep the product in original packaging. Don’t reuse containers that already contain other substances such as lotion or perfume. Also, avoid placing the salts near sources of extreme heat, such as radiators or hot pipes.
Store the product in a dry place at room temperature. Avoid putting it in the refrigerator or freezer, as this can damage the ingredients.
Do not expose the product to excessive moisture. Moisture causes the salts to become sticky and clumpy.
Avoid storing the product next to chemicals, such as cleaning agents or lye soap. These substances can react chemically with the salts and alter their chemical composition.
For best results, check the expiration date printed on the container. Once the package is opened, refrigerate the remaining portion immediately.
To learn more about keeping things fresh, see the links on the following page.
Some medical experts recommend against taking large amounts of cromolyn sodium. Although widely accepted for years, recent evidence suggests that the drug poses risks to people with severe respiratory conditions such as emphysema and bronchial asthma. Cromolyn sodium triggers the release of certain inflammatory cells within the body, which can result in worsening problems for people with pre-existing health issues.”

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