Skunk Run

by Don Miller & CWS Team | May 25, 2019

What is the name of the powerful odor molecule in skunk spray?


God gave the skunk a most creative way of defending itself: a horrific smell that it can aim quite well. Its DNA contains just the right directions to make a very obnoxious thiol compound, very similar to ones found in onions and garlic.


Solutions containing thioglycolate are used to straighten a wanna-be-curly hair. “Thioglycolate contains a thiol (-SH) group, and dissociation of the hydrogen atom from the sulfur creates a thiolate (-S-) ion.” These “thiolate ions are good reducing agents and help break the disulphide bonds” (1) of hair. This in turn causes hair to straighten. After treatment, though, hydrogen peroxide has to be applied in order to keep the reaction from eating away the hair—wild!


Thiols are quite fun, for the skunk anyway. If you—or a too-dumb-to-run dog—get nailed by one, forget the tomatoes. The juice bath does nothing. Instead, do the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide rubdown. It rearranges the oxygen atoms on the thiols and renders them stink-less.


FYI: Be thankful, though. The thiols are flammable. Under the right conditions, we could have little striped flame throwers running through the woods.


So, why do you think God gave skunks that rather out-of-the-box way to defend themselves? We think it’s because it’s yet another reminder that He does things that are higher than our ways.


Sometimes the higher is lower.


Remember Paul–and all his invaluable contributions to the world. He and his ministry was saved early on because he was let down a city wall in a big basket!


Be always open to God’s creativity. Sometimes He sinks big bad ships and blows open great impossible doors in the most unexpected ways. And often His ways will surprise you in how simple–and profoundly effective—they can be.

Reference: (1) Vaidya, Akanksha. The Tartan – SciTech. https://thetartan.org/2009/11/9/scitech/howthingswork.

(TY E. Ariel for your contributions!)

Scroll to Top