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How to Use Smelling Salts Correctly & Side Effects of Misuse

Updated: Apr 10

In our previous post, we discussed how long smelling salts last and their stimulating effects on users. Smelling salts contain a diluted form of ammonia and can range in potency and activation methods. While ammonia has its beneficial effects in sports and medical applications, improper use and repeated exposure can have adverse health consequences.

Smelling salts for stimulating effects

Source: Smelling salts are used in sports for their immediate stimulating effects

Many individuals may be pondering the safety of smelling salts given that concentrated ammonia is a powerful chemical and a key component of these products. Specifically, they might be questioning the potential hazards and adverse effects associated with their use, as well as the proper way to utilize them.

This article will address crucial subjects such as the proper use of smelling salts for fainting incidents, general guidelines on how to use them from a bottle, and the potential health consequences that could result from their misuse.

Are Smelling Salts Dangerous?

Using smelling salts inappropriately or excessively can result in negative effects on the body. While they are generally deemed safe, they should only be utilized in specific situations such as sports, workouts, and reviving people who have fainted. Most commercial smelling salts and inhalants have diluted ammonia concentrations of around 50-100 ppm and are typically harmless.

Repeated exposure at lower concentrations for more than 1 hour can cause irritation and mild side effects.

Repeated exposure to extremely high concentrations of 2500+ ppm can lead to permanent organ damage, long-term health effects, and even death.

Even while diluted, ammonia is still a potent chemical component in smelling salts and is a natural irritant. Smelling salts can cause redness, swelling, and even chemical burns if they come into contact with the skin or eyes. Similarly, they should not be ingested under any circumstances.

Smelling salts misuse or overuse effects

Source: While smelling salts are a safer diluted form of ammonia, they can still lead to negative side effects if mishandled or overused

Individuals who have preexisting respiratory system ailments, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic lung disease, may encounter negative reactions when using smelling salts.

Similarly, those with heart conditions or high blood pressure should also avoid smelling salts, since the sudden rise in blood pressure and heart rate brought on by them can be dangerous. As a precaution, smelling salts should also be kept away from children and minors at all costs.

Smelling salts can also lead to dependence if overused. This happens as the body adjusts to the stimulating effects of the ammonia. While this may not seem dangerous at first, the respiratory system and other organs may suffer long-term harm as a result of this. The user should stop using smelling salts right away if they experience any negative side effects, and seek medical help if necessary.

Smelling Salts Side Effects

While there is not really enough evidence to prove the short or long-term effects, smelling salts are generally safe when used properly and in small doses. However, they do have some potential side effects and can cause mild allergic reactions if misused or used excessively. The following are a few potential negative effects of smelling salts:

  • Irritation and burning in the throat and nose

  • Breathing difficulties, wheezing, and coughing

  • Headache, nausea, and vomiting

  • Disorientation, confusion, and lightheadedness

  • Skin or eye contact could cause irritation or chemical burns

Ammonia inhalants are generally used to revive fainted individuals. But, how can we apply smelling salts when we encounter such a situation?

How To Use Smelling Salts For Fainting

A sudden drop in blood pressure or a deficiency in oxygen to the brain are the two main causes of why people lose consciousness and faint. Someone who has passed out or fainted can be revived using smelling salts.

Smelling salts used for fainting

Source: Smelling salts are a natural support for fainting

When breathed in, the mixture of ammonia and salt in them can help a person wake up by stimulating their nervous system. The steps to using smelling salts in this scenario are as follows:

  1. Make sure the fainted individual is on their back and that their airway is open. Tight clothing around their neck and chest should be loosened if needed.

  2. Break or twist the seal on the smelling salts container to release the vapors

  3. Wave the smelling salt container gently back and forth while holding it 4-6 inches below their nose.

  4. Make sure they breathe in the fumes through their nose. Be ready to support them as they experience a strong and unpleasant reaction to this.

  5. Wait for them to regain consciousness. If they don't wake up in a minute or so, go to the hospital right away.

How to Use Smelling Salt Bottle Properly

Most smelling salt bottles contain solid ammonium carbonate, which needs to be diluted in water and shaken first to activate it. You can check out below the common instructions from most commercial brands for more detail on how to properly use smelling salts bottles:

  1. Open the lid. Dilute the smelling salt bottle by adding a small amount of water to the cotton ball beneath the lid according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  2. Close the cap. Shake the bottle to activate the ammonia vapors.

  3. Reopen the lid and inhale carefully at a safe distance of 4-6 inches away from the nose

  4. Close the cap tightly again once finished.

Proper use of smelling salts in bottle

Every smelling salt has a different potency and activation method. Manufacturer instructions should be followed closely for safe and proper use

It's important to remember that the strength of smelling salt bottles varies depending on who makes them. Always follow the specific safety instructions to avoid misuse and potential side effects.

Furthermore, smelling salts are generally safe when properly used in the right applications. A few notable differences between classic smelling salts and natural ones like Native Salts are their activation method, bottle design, and potency.

Native Salts bottles are much more compact, reusable, and travel-friendly. There’s no need to add water or shake the bottle to activate them. They don't have to come in big bottles or smell very strong in order to be stimulating. Native Salts get the job done with a smaller dosage while providing a safer and more refreshing experience that not just athletes but also the typical everyday worker can enjoy. To learn how to use Native Salts safely and effectively, you can read them here.

You can visit our FAQ page for more. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to learn more about Native Salts, the safest natural aromatic smelling salts in a bottle. You can also get them here by clicking the "Get Native Salts" button below.

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