Skunk spray and open flame

So, um, odd question, but what happens when skunk spray encounters an open flame or hot surface? Not pranking anyone but need answer fast.

Anecdote but our policy growing up on a farm was to shoot any skunks close to the house in daylight because that is not normal behavior and it may be a sign of rabies. Any way, I once shot a skunk from close range ( about 15 feet) with a shotgun and blue flames licked out of the body. This was up against a shop building so he may have gotten into oil or gas.

Well, since you want an answer fast, I’ll give a slightly educated guess: Not much.

The spray is almost certainly mostly water. There’s not going to be enough of anything flammable to make the water-based solution flammable (let alone explosive).

A moderate amount of heat (like a hot radiator or something) will probably make the smell worse (but slightly shorter lived), as the smelly compounds evaporate faster from the heat.

Sending the spray into a blast furnace or something really hot (that wouldn’t let much vapor escape) would probably burn the smelly compounds, eliminating the smell.

A campfire would probably be a bit of both: some of the smell would be burned away, but some would just evaporate faster.

You shot a skunk with a shotgun and blue flames came out of it? Were these shotgun tracer rounds you were using? :dubious:

That was my first thought but I’m not so sure. The smell apparently comes from thiol, apparently a chemical similar to alcohol, and other musks are hydrocarbon based. I know next to nothing about chemistry or how much of those chemicals comprise the spray, but a little quick look online doesn’t give me any great certainty that the spray is mostly water. It may be though that it is, and those other chemicals in small amounts just provide the odor.

Rule of thumb: Nearly everything the body produces is mostly water. Even flatulence contains more water vapor than volatile substances.

Yet it can be flammable. So perhaps focusing on the water content still isn’t the best indication of incendiary potential.

That’s correct, flammability is the best indication to consider.

And butyl mercaptan is very flammable, just like methane. Doubtless adolescent male skunks experiment with lighters to see if they are brothers of the blue flame, in much the same way as adolescent male humans do.

Fortunately the high water content of the overall mix generally keeps youth of both species safe while doing this.

Ah, thanks!