deodorizer or deodorant, substance used to absorb or eliminate offensive odors. Disinfectants such as hydrogen peroxide, chlorine, and chlorine compounds eliminate odors caused by microorganisms. Adsorbent deodorizers such as activated charcoal and silica gel remove odorous molecules by attracting them to the adsorbent surface. Some substances, such as chlorophyll, eliminate odors by combining chemically with odorous impurities. Glycols, which are disinfectant as well as deodorizing substances, are sprayed into the air to absorb odors. In some industrial processes, odor-containing air is scrubbed, i.e., bubbled through a liquid that dissolves or emulsifies the odorous molecules. In personal hygiene, deodorants may be applied locally on body surfaces. Because most body odor is caused by the action of bacteria on the skin (perspiration is nearly odorless), many deodorants contain antiseptics that destroy bacteria; the antiseptic hexachlorophene is no longer used in deodorants because it has been shown to cause brain damage. An antiperspirant component of deodorant preparations, usually an aluminum salt, blocks the pores through which perspiration is secreted.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.