Why Do I Crave The Smell Of Rubbing Alcohol?

Why Do I Crave The Smell Of Rubbing Alcohol?

Pregnancy is known for giving women weird food and smell cravings. From craving pickles, ice cream, chocolate, etc. But sometimes, even non-pregnant women or men tend to develop some cravings. This can be a reason for concern, especially in men, as they’re not used to the whole idea of cravings and all. So, what happens if you’re not pregnant and have weird cravings? Like craving the smell of rubbing alcohol? What can make you constantly long for such a smell? Stay tuned.

Rubbing alcohol is an antiseptic that’s used for surface disinfection. It can be found as a standalone liquid or mixed with other solvents like inks, disinfectants, antifreeze, pharmaceuticals, etc. It has a sharp, musty odor that lingers in the air for some time. Rubbing alcohol is divided into three categories, methyl, ethyl, and isopropyl, with isopropyl being the most common among them.

There are many ways of using rubbing alcohol. Some of them include:

  • Preventing nausea, especially after a surgical procedure.
  • Wiping phones, computer mouse, and keyboards.
  • Cleaning toilets and bathrooms.
  • Removing odor from shoes.
  • Cleaning the face, jewelry, and pierced ears.
  • Deodorizing armpits.


The emergence of covid-19 made rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers crucial disinfectants worldwide. Many resorted to it as it was an essential and readily available weapon against spreading the virus. The constant exposure to rubbing alcohol was a huge skin concern among most people. They noted that it had a drying effect on their skin. Then, there was this group of people who always loved its smell, with others having constant cravings for it. If you fall in the latter group, here are possible reasons for craving the rubbing alcohol smell.

Reasons For Craving Rubbing Alcohol Smell

There are probably two reasons for your craving for rubbing alcohol smell. They include:


Like regular alcohol people drink, rubbing alcohol can lead to dependence and addiction. When you inhale rubbing alcohol for the first time, the vapor travels to your brain. Depending on the quantity and concentration of the alcohol, the effect may be less or more. Inhaling a small amount of alcohol doesn’t significantly affect the body.

However, sniffing rubbing alcohol with concentrations like 70%, 91%, and 99% can have narcotic effects, creating feelings of euphoria. The alcohol vapor passes the nose and travels to the lungs, where it’s absorbed. It further enters the bloodstream and moves to the brain, making you feel high. Persistent use of this chemical can lead to addiction, making you constantly crave the smell. So, if you constantly seek to sniff rubbing alcohol and feel withdrawal symptoms when you miss inhaling it, you could be addicted to the rubbing alcohol smell.


Is a condition where someone craves the smell of certain things due to a deficiency of nutrients. The most common deficiency is iron deficiency anemia. According to several case studies, craving the smell of rubbing alcohol is an olfactory sign of iron deficiency anemia. And that these people no longer craved the rubbing alcohol smell once their iron levels returned to normal. So, it may be worth checking your hemoglobin to determine if it’s the culprit making you long for sniffing rubbing alcohol.

What Inhaling Rubbing Alcohol Can Do

Short-term effects of inhaling rubbing alcohol include:


  • euphoria
  • diarrhea
  • excitability
  • vomiting
  • hallucinations
  • nausea and severe pains
  • slurred speech
  • possible bleeding
  • dizziness
  • loss of coordination
  • lightheadedness
  • blacking out
  • loss of self-control
  • limited reflexes
  • low blood pressure
  • distorted or slurred speech
  • respiratory failure and shock
  • difficulty in breathing
  • and respiratory depression in the central nervous system.

Long effects of sniffing rubbing alcohol include:

  • nerve damage
  • kidney and liver damage
  • bone marrow damage
  • limb spasms and loss of coordination
  • delayed behavioral development
  • brain damage
  • hearing loss
  • and death.

How To Overcome The Urge of Smelling Rubbing Alcohol

If you think your craving for smelling rubbing alcohol is not related to a medical condition, chances are you are addicted. Addiction is terrible and wreaks havoc in your life. To help you overcome it, here are things you should do:

  1. Make a firm decision. For you to successfully overcome the addiction, the desire to quit sniffing rubbing alcohol should come from within. Find out all your possible “whys” you want to quit. Make a strong determination that this is what you’ll stick by rain or sun.
  2. Note down on a paper, “I’ll no longer smell rubbing alcohol,” and put the paper somewhere you can easily see every day. This should serve you as a reminder of the decision you just made to quit sniffing rubbing alcohol.
  3. Remove every source of rubbing alcohol in your house, workplace, or place you usually hang around. The saying “out of sight out of mind” has some truth as the more something is not readily available, the more unlikely you are to use it. You may think of using organic wipes and sanitizers in the meantime.
  4. Anytime you feel like sniffing rubbing alcohol, take a short walk. Taking a short walk is an excellent way of distracting your mind from craving the smell. Walking is also a form of exercise that produces dopamine, creating feelings of happiness. The walk may be more beneficial if it’s a nature walk. Going for a nature walk can help your brain relax and improve your mood, making your craving for rubbing alcohol subside.
  5. Read about the dangerous effects of smelling rubbing alcohol. Remind yourself that you’re doing your body great justice by quitting sniffing alcohol. When you constantly remind yourself of the dangers of smelling rubbing alcohol, it will be hard for you to backslide and fall off the wagon.
  6. Develop new and healthy hobbies. Having new and healthy interests can be a good way of keeping yourself occupied and distracted from longing to smell rubbing alcohol. When you’re constantly occupied in healthy activities like cooking, reading, swimming, or gardening, you are less likely to engage in unhealthy activities.
  7. Avoid spending time with friends who encourage you to use rubbing alcohol. If your friends smell rubbing alcohol or promote you to use it, keeping your distance from them is best. This way, you have less exposure.


Craving for smelling rubbing alcohol is common among many, whether pregnant or not. And while it may be caused by iron deficiency anemia, in many cases, it’s due to addiction. If you’re addicted to sniffing rubbing alcohol, follow the steps above to overcome the addiction, to avoid having serious health consequences.