Smelling salts are a combination of ammonium carbonate and perfume. However, today’s smelling salts are more likely to contain diluted ammonia dissolved with water and ethanol. Both solutions offer a stimulant with restorative properties.
Traditionally, doctors would use smelling salts to help revive people who have fainted.
However, today, athletes looking to improve performance will sometimes use smelling salts for their stimulant effect.
The stimulant effect of smelling salts is due to the ammonia, which irritates a person’s nasal and lung membranes when they sniff it. The result is that the person involuntarily inhales and starts to breathe faster, which sends more oxygen to the brain.
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