Why Do Hockey Players Smell Salt?

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Have you ever wondered what is the unknown thing that ice hockey players hold close to their noses and breathe in just before they’re about to ace the game? Nothing to worry about, it’s just smelling salts.

I know most of you think it’s so odd to see them sniffing salt openly and so casually before their most anticipated games like it’s some form of ritual. It’s a pretty common practice for athletes, especially for ice hockey players, however, the reason behind it is not known to many yet.

Read on if you want to discover what smelling salts are all about, the purpose of sniffing it before games, and other necessary details.

What are smelling salts?

The first thing to describe smelling salts is that they’re not the ones found in your kitchen and not the regular type you can buy in commercial stores. 

Smelling salts are made of ammonia and perfume. They come in various forms from colorless to white crystalline and are present in different cultures. History says that these have been in good use for many different situations such as wars, athletic competitions, and medical situations and emergencies. 

The reason why they have been used in the mentioned fields and circumstances is that their composition is designed to stimulate the body’s nervous system, forcing you to focus on your present environment. 

Contrary to most people’s beliefs, smelling salts do not give off a delightful aroma that keeps you drawing in deep breaths at intervals. Instead, with its weird smell, they jerk you awake rudely and irritate your eyes and nostrils.

Why are there smelling salts in ice hockey?

Given the fact that smelling salts don’t smell nice, there are surely more reasons why they are involved in pre-game rituals for ice hockey events. 

Most hockey players believe in the science of such substances, or if some would argue, the magic of smelling salts. 

Typically, you see players sniffing these salts just before they step in and play. Common reactions after waving these substances under their noses are flared nostrils and watery eyes. Once the effect which was triggered by the smell has fully kicked in their system, their body is ready and now more alert. Sniffing the salts before the game is the best time to perform it because this is when they need to be at their peak awareness.

Popular hockey players and advocates of smelling salt also professed that sniffing such salts gives them buzz and awareness that goes a long way in boosting their confidence and generally improving their performances.

Such statements are considered truthful since smelling salts are known to trigger the body’s fight response and give you a surge of adrenaline. Therefore, increased energy levels give athletes extra strength, speed, and increased brain activity which are essential factors to play a great game. 

However, with all these beneficial effects, they all wear off immediately according to athletes. Some hockey players even stated that sniffing salts is not always about physical stimulation but rather, a mental boost. In a way, the placebo effect plays a role in convincing the athletes that the team would have a great game so each one of them would deliver a great performance.

Why is this ritual still present in most games?

Even though some think that smelling salts are useless and nothing but armor for a mental boost, several players still choose to stick with this tradition for this is believed to bring good luck and create positive vibes ahead of their games. 

Sniffing salts as part of pre-game rituals may not be backed up by proven scientific results, but for some, this is their coin of luck.

Where are they available?

Since prescription is not required for purchasing smelling salts, they are readily available in a few stores on the internet. Typically, they come in first aid kit packaging.

Can you make homemade smelling salts?

It is highly discouraged to experiment with chemical mixtures. Also, the main ingredient of smelling salts which is ammonia is not usually available in supplement stores.

Although there are helpful articles online on how to create an alternative formula for smelling salts, such procedures shouldn’t be done carelessly. Such action is not recommended.

Final Thoughts

We all have our ways of fully equipping ourselves with luck and preparedness before competitions and events. For ice hockey players, having smelling salts around is a way of acing their games.

The scientific results of how effective smelling salts are yet to be disclosed. For now, let us acknowledge the fact that sniffing such substances as part of their pre-game ritual is welcomed and respected by most hockey players. 

Dinesh Kajla
I love the winter season. Every year, I wait for this season so that I can enjoy the snow, and the comfort of winter clothing.

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