Why Does Witch Hazel Stink? (We Have the Answer!)

why does witch hazel stink

Witch hazel has many household uses, but since the product is derived from plants, it comes with certain smells. 

In this article, we’ll be diving into the reasons why witch hazel has a strong and unpleasant odor to some people. 

Why Does Witch Hazel Stink?

Witch hazel has a distinctive alcohol and woody odor that makes it “stink” in some people’s opinions. This is due to the fact that it’s made from organic matter from elm trees, including bark, leaves, and twigs. 

Below, we’ll discuss the distinctive smell of witch hazel and touch on some of its uses (including aftershave, skin care, and even some oral treatments for colds and sickness. At the end, we’ll even share tips on proper witch hazel disposal, so keep reading to learn more!

What Does Witch Hazel Flower Smell Like?

The witch hazel flower is just one component used to make witch hazel products. The witch hazel flowers which bloom on elm trees in the fall and certain plants in the winter, smell quite different from the final witch hazel product you buy in stores. 

The blooms smell slightly spicy, but also fragrant as most flowers do. They’re also described as smelling of sarsaparilla, as well as woody and earthy by nature. 

But in some cases, the blooms can smell less fragrant and more like medicine, which is off-putting for some people. Furthermore, if the witch hazel products you buy in stores do not have added essential oils and fragrances, it is likely that they will smell strong and earthy rather than pleasant.

What is Witch Hazel Good For?

The uses for witch hazel range from medicinal functions to topical skin care purposes. They include the following:

  • Aftershave products
  • Acne treatment 
  • Skin ailments including mild burns, itching, bug bites, inflammation, and bruises
  • Hemorrhoid relief
  • Protection against sun-induced aging

Unfortunately, its topical use for skin irritation may come with a counterintuitive effect of irritating the skin further for some individuals. If you have sensitive skin or an allergy to the witch hazel plant, it may not be effective or safe for you to use.

Can you Drink Witch Hazel?

Furthermore, witch hazel has some oral uses that don’t replace professional medical treatment but are thought to provide certain relief. It is mostly safe to drink witch hazel, but only in small amounts. 

Ingestion of witch hazel is thought to treat, but not proven to treat, ailments such as fevers and colds, diarrhea and stomach upset, colitis, and vomiting. Many people also take witch hazel orally since it is rich in antioxidants, which have numerous health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties. 

But excess ingestion and/or inhalation of witch hazel can have serious adverse effects, including drowsiness, blurred vision, and even slurred speech.

How do You Dispose of Witch Hazel?

Since witch hazel can be toxic in amounts that are too concentrated, it’s important to note that it requires proper disposal. You can’t simply pour it down the drain or flush it down your toilet at home. 

Any remnants of witch hazel products that you need to dispose of should be thoroughly diluted with water before flushing or pouring into drains.

And if you’re going to put empty witch hazel containers into the trash or recycling bin, they need to be thoroughly cleaned of residue first. 


If you’ve ever gotten a whiff of witch hazel and wondered why does witch hazel stink?, it’s possible that the product hasn’t had any fragrances added. Although certain witch hazel blooms can have a floral scent to them, certain plants that witch hazel is made from have strong woody scents that some people don’t like. 

Witch hazel has various uses, from topical skin treatments to aftershave and more. Remember to use it only in moderation and properly dispose of it once you’re done.

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