Ah, the smell of a campfire.
There’s nothing quite like it.
That is, until it’s in your hair.
That smoky smell might actually be coming from the particles that cling to your hair, and believe it or not, your own skin might be contributing to the smell as well.
Quick fix solutions
If you’re spending more than a day or two at camp, or you simply don’t want to wash your hair daily, you can take advantage on some of the following solutions that remove the smell of campfire with the least amount of hassle.
Dry shampoo is a great way to absorb excess grease and odours, giving your hair a nice refresh without having to go through the process of washing it.
Check out our favourite dry shampoos to bring camping.
Simply apply a dry shampoo to the roots of your hair, massage it in, and brush it through to the ends.
We always recommend using unscented products if you’re camping to avoid attracting wildlife, but if you’re planning on leaving camp, you might prefer a scented dry shampoo.
Lemon juice treatment
Lemons are known for their refreshing scent and powerful cleaning abilities.
To get rid of the campfire smell from your hair, try this lemon juice treatment:
- Squeeze the juice out of one fresh lemon.
- Remove the peel and crush it.
- Add crushed peels and lemon juice to a spray bottle.
- Wait for 10 to 15 minutes for the mixture to meld.
- Divide your hair into sections, spray the solution on each section, and comb it through with your hands.
This method is effective in eliminating the smoky odour and leaves your hair smelling amazingly fresh.
Remember to rinse your hair when you get home to avoid any residue or stickiness.
Baking soda rinse
Baking soda works wonders on odours, making it a perfectly natural way to get rid of that campfire smell from your hair.
Here’s a simple method:
- Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water in a container.
- Wet your hair, and then pour the mixture over it, making sure to cover your entire scalp and hair.
- Massage it in for around 30 seconds.
- Rinse with water thoroughly.
This method is a little more inconvenient because it involves getting your hair wet, but it’s still a fine option.
You could also do this at home in the shower before shampooing to remove as much of the campfire smell as possible.
Deep cleansing techniques
Once you’re reunited with your shower, you can use some deeper cleansing techniques to get rid of the campfire smell for good.
Use a clarifying shampoo
Clarifying shampoos are specifically designed to remove buildup and debris, making them perfect for eliminating ash and soot.
My personal favourite is Aveda’s rosemary mint purifying shampoo and conditioner, which I buy directly from my hair stylist whenever I visit.
Lather up your hair, focusing on the roots and working your way to the tips.
Rinse well and follow up with a conditioner to restore moisture.
A vinegar wash can effectively neutralize strong odours, including campfire smell.
Mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 1/4 cup of warm water and pour the mixture through your hair.
Let it sit for five minutes before rinsing away with a mild shampoo.
Activated charcoal treatment
Activated charcoal is known for its ability to absorb smells and impurities, making it an excellent solution to get rid of the smell of campfire in your hair.
Create a paste by combining activated charcoal powder with enough water to form a thick consistency.
Apply it to your damp hair, ensuring all strands are coated.
Leave the mixture on your hair for about 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
Finish with a gentle shampoo and conditioner to cleanse your hair and keep it soft.
Remember to keep the treatment brief without concocting exaggerated claims.
There are a few simple measures you can take to prevent the campfire smell from getting into your hair in the first place.
Wear a hat or head covering
Wearing a hat, scarf, or other type of head covering can help protect your hair from campfire smoke, preventing it from soaking up the campfire smell.
You can choose a hat or wrap made from a breathable material like cotton or linen so that it doesn’t trap heat or sweat around your head.
This little accessory can make a significant difference in keeping the campfire scent out of your locks.
Avoid sitting or standing downwind
Being mindful of the wind direction can help you avoid the campfire smell in your hair.
Try to stay upwind from the fire so that the smoke doesn’t travel directly towards you.
This way, you can still enjoy the warmth without getting the smoke smell in your hair.
If you’re not sure which way the wind is blowing, check for smoke direction or observe how nearby leaves or grass are moving.
Positioning yourself wisely can save you the trouble of dealing with smoky hair later.
Use smokeless alternatives
If you want to avoid the campfire smell altogether, you can opt for smokeless options, such as portable camp stoves.
These produce zero to minimal smoke, allowing you to cook or boil water without having the pesky smell stick to your hair.
If lighting and ambience is what you’re going for, you could try lighting candles, using lanterns, or hanging string lights around camp instead of having a campfire.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Why does my hair still smell like smoke after washing?
Sometimes, washing your hair with regular shampoo and conditioner isn’t enough to remove the stubborn campfire smell.
The odour can cling to your hair strands and scalp, making it challenging to get rid of.
To tackle this issue, you can try using a baking soda paste by mixing four tablespoons of baking soda with ¾ cup of water.
Apply the paste to wet hair, working it from the roots to the tips, including the scalp. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it out.
Does campfire smoke damage hair?
Campfire smoke doesn’t typically cause significant damage to your hair.
However, exposure to smoke can lead to dryness and buildup, making your hair feel more brittle and less healthy.
If you’re concerned about the effects of smoke on your hair, try using hair products specifically designed to remove odours and maintain moisture levels.
Additionally, keep in mind that spending too much time near campfires may expose your hair to high heat, which could cause some damage.
It’s always a good idea to protect your strands and maintain a safe distance from the fire.
How do you get rid of campfire smell from clothes?
To remove the campfire smell from your clothes, first try airing them out by hanging them in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside.
If the smell persists, you can wash your clothes in cold water with regular laundry detergent.
Adding a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle can help to neutralize the odor further.
Finally, hang your clothes to dry, as using a dryer can sometimes lock in the smell.
If necessary, you may need to repeat the process until the odour is gone.
Elise is an experienced backcountry canoe tripper and winter camper from Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking up a storm over the campfire, taking in all the backcountry views, and enjoying a piña colada or two while relaxing at camp. She’s also certified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) I & II and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).