Everything You Need To Know About Scent Blockers
OutdoorHub Reporters 11.07.18
While we may think of animals like bears or dogs when talking about their sense of smell, deer actually have one of the most advanced sense of smell around, even better than a bloodhound. They can detect the presence of a foreign scent simply from a piece of your clothing lightly brushing against a tree. This is an important evolutionary trait since they are sought after by humans and predators alike.
Because deer associate the smell of humans with danger, leaving behind a scent trail or having your scent carried by the wind can make hunting significantly more difficult. Fortunately, hunting experts and camo companies have come up with a solution to make yourself significantly more “invisible” while hunting: Scent Blockers.
Zeolite and Activated Carbon
Scent blockers primarily work by trapping your scent before it ever gets a chance to leave a trail behind. A commonly used material in scent blocking equipment is zeolite. Zeolite is a naturally occurring mineral found in volcanic ash. It is a highly porous material, allowing it to collect and trap your odors before they leave a mark on the environment. Companies like Under Armour have used this property of zeolite to create synthetic versions that not only trap human odors but eliminate the bacteria causing them once they’re trapped.
Another common method for reducing your scent is activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal. This method of filtration has been used since the time of the Egyptians and continues to be used in lots of different ways today. The catalytic converters on your vehicle, for example, reduce the number of emissions your vehicle puts off. “Activated” carbon simply means that the carbon has been processed to be more porous than it occurs naturally, allowing it to trap even more smells. Some scent blockers combine activated carbon with zeolite to create a solution that renders you practically scentless to the deer. By adding anti-bacterial treatment to the materials, trapped smells are removed once they’ve been trapped.
Engineered polymers are a completely synthetic material designed to improve upon the natural properties of activated carbon and zeolite. While zeolite and activated carbon are covered in micropores that trap smells, engineered polymers are covered in macropores that lead to micropores. The macro pores provide a bigger entrance for scents and odors, while the micro pores trap them. This makes it easier for smells to be captured than with materials that rely solely on micropores. This material is thought to be 50% more effective than activated carbon and 200% more effective than zeolite for reducing a person’s natural odor.
Companies like SITKA Gear use a Permanent Polygiene® Odor Control Technology on several of their camouflage ‘systems.’ According to their website, “Polygiene uses naturally occurring silver salt (silver chloride) made from recycled silver, a highly effective antimicrobial agent, to safely inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungi. However, Polygiene does not affect the natural bacterial flora of your skin. And without odor-causing bacteria, you stay fresh.”
This is groundbreaking technology for big game hunters, and SITKA does a fantastic job of implementing it where it counts the most. Specifically, their ESW system is one of our favorites. It’s extremely lightweight and carefully features Permanent Polygiene® Odor Control Technology throughout the system. So even if it’s a scorcher in the deer stand, you’ll remain cool and undetectable, at least through smell!
An antimicrobial is any agent used to kill or stop the reproduction of bacteria. While most of the solutions so far are used to trap the smells, antimicrobials are used to eliminate odors at the source, not just trapping them, but eradicating them. While it is effective at stopping odors before they are created, antimicrobials aren’t able to get rid of odors that have already been given off by your body. Because of this, antimicrobials like silver are typically combined with porous garments designed to trap scents, making each more effective for reducing your scent.
While scent blockers are a very effective way to manage your smell while hunting, it is never 100% effective. By keeping an eye on the wind, washing your clothing with non-scented detergent, and wearing scent blocking materials, you can make your presence nearly impossible to detect for deer, allowing your hunts as much success as possible.