Are Smelling Salts Safe for Lifting? A Closer Look

Lifting weights is a popular way to build strength and muscle mass, and it’s important for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to be able to push themselves to their limits in order to achieve their goals. However, when you’re pushing your body to the max, it’s not uncommon to feel dizzy or lightheaded, which can make it difficult to continue your workout. One way to combat this is to use smelling salts, which are a type of stimulant that can help you feel more alert and focused. In this blog post, we’ll explore what smelling salts are, how they work, and whether or not they’re safe to use.

What Are Smelling Salts?

Smelling salts are a type of chemical compound that’s typically made up of ammonium carbonate and either water or alcohol. They’re often sold in small, sealed containers and used to revive people who have fainted or passed out. When you open the container, the ammonia gas that’s released creates a strong, pungent odor that’s meant to jolt the person back to consciousness.

In the context of weightlifting, smelling salts are sometimes used as a way to increase alertness and focus during a workout. They’re typically sold in small, portable containers and are available in a variety of different scents, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus.

How Do Smelling Salts Work?

Smelling salts work by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. When you inhale the ammonia gas, it irritates the membranes in your nose and lungs, which triggers a reflexive inhalation response. This reflexive inhalation causes you to take a deep breath, which increases your heart rate and blood pressure and can help you feel more alert and focused.

In addition to stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, smelling salts can also have an analgesic effect, which means they can help reduce pain and discomfort. This is because the ammonia gas stimulates the production of adrenaline, which can help block pain signals in the brain.

Are Smelling Salts Safe to Use?

While smelling salts are generally considered safe to use in small doses, they can be dangerous if used improperly. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering using smelling salts for lifting:

  1. Start with a small dose. Smelling salts are highly concentrated and can be overwhelming if you’re not used to them. Start with a small dose and work your way up as you become more comfortable.
  2. Don’t use them too often. Smelling salts can be addictive and can cause long-term damage to your respiratory system if used too often. Limit your use to no more than once or twice a week.
  3. Don’t use them if you have respiratory problems. If you have asthma or any other respiratory problems, you should avoid using smelling salts altogether, as they can aggravate these conditions.
  4. Don’t use them if you’re pregnant or nursing. Smelling salts can be harmful to developing fetuses and should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  5. Use them in a well-ventilated area. Smelling salts can be dangerous if used in an enclosed space, as the ammonia gas can be toxic if inhaled in large doses. Use them in a well-ventilated area and avoid inhaling them directly from the container.

In addition to these safety precautions, it’s important to remember that smelling salts are not a substitute for proper warm-up and stretching techniques. They should be used in conjunction with a safe and effective workout routine, and should not be relied on as a primary source of energy or motivation.


Smelling salts can be a useful tool for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who want to increase their alertness and focus during a workout. However, it’s important to use them safely and responsibly, and to understand their limitations as a supplement to your training regimen.