Yuck! That Smell...
Can You Make Neem Oil Smell Better?

Neem does not smell of roses
Photo: Dystopian Optimist/Flickr.com

So you heard that neem oil does not smell of roses...

Well, you could be wrong!

An Indian company just released a new neem oil that comes in different aromas. You can choose between rose and sandalwood among others. True.

But you can't buy the new neem oil on the Internet, or in a shop near you. Yet. I'll let you know once you can.

So... How do you make neem oil smell better?

According to the company that makes the new aromatic neem oil they only masked the smell, they did not remove it. That's good! Because a refined, deodorized neem oil is generally not what you want!

Yes, raw neem oil stinks. But the components that give off the offensive sulfurous smell are the ingredients that make neem oil so effective.

Remove the smell and you remove some of the effectiveness of neem oil.

There are over 140 active ingredients in neem oil. Scientists are busy measuring and proving exactly what each of this substances can and can't do. That's great to increase our understanding. But isolating individual ingredients, or removing some of them (the smelly ones) is not necessarily a good thing for the user.

It doesn't matter if we look at herbs, natural oils, or, even your daily food! The closer to its natural state something is the healthier and the better for you it is.

Fresh garlic is more powerful than garlic pills. Organic potatoes baked in their skins are more nutritious than instant potato soup from a packet. And raw stinky neem oil works better than the colorless and deodorized versions.

Is there anything you can do about the neem oil smell?

If you are battling insects, lice, mites, be it in the garden, on your dog or in your kids' hair, use raw neem oil. Put a clothes peg on your nose if you have to.

Once your garden spray has dried you won't notice the smell. You won't notice it on your dog either.

In your own hair, which is a bit closer to your nose, you can use a shampoo and conditioner with some nice essential oils after the neem oil treatment. That would definitely cover any lingering hint of neem oil smell.

A skin lotion is a different cup of tea, since it stays on your skin. But you should not use pure neem oil on your skin anyway. Either make your own neem lotions or stick to ready made commercial preparations. Those neem lotions often have neem oil in them, but many also use neem leaf extract, which doesn't smell.

Neem leaf is very good for the skin and often overlooked by people who know little about neem! Neem lotions and cremes also include other essential oils that mask and cover the smell of the neem oil.

You can also try adding just a bit of neem oil to a lotion that you like. Experiment to find out how much you can add before your nose takes notice. (Only mix a bit at a time unless it's a water free lotion. Neem oil is not stable when mixed with water.)

Neem soaps nearly always smell good from the other oils that the manufacturers add. Just look at the ingredients before you buy. Plus, you rinse and dry after use anyway...

And here, just for the fun of it, some quotes from around the Net. Just so you can brace yourself for the opening of your first bottle of real neem oil...

  • The smell of neem oil takes some getting used to (think licorice or soy sauce) but neem oil really works.
  • Rancid peanut butter.
  • Dirt, musk and garlic is a good description.
  • Neem oil has an aroma of sulfur and garlic. When mixed with the tea tree it does become a little more medicinal to the senses. It is not necessarily a pretty smell but it does the job you need it to do! Adding lavender helps the aroma somewhat...
  • Rancid garlic
  • Neem oil has a remarkable bouquet, reminiscent of burning rubber, with a lingering burnt hair finish. But the stuff works.
  • French onion soup (This description is from a manufacturer, and I'd argue with it. French onion soup smells good! Neem oil does not!)
  • Rancid burnt onions
  • Onions boiled in coffee
  • Did I mention that it has a very strong smell? A bit like garlicky peanut butter with some rotten eggs thrown in, but one gets used to it.

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