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5 Smells That Repel Bears & 5 Smells That Attract Bears

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When you’re out in the woods for the first time, these questions are very general – how to keep bears away from the campsite? How do keep mosquitoes away? The list of such questions is too long.

Can we do something about this wildlife? We can’t because the earth is not only for human beings. Our mother earth has no such discrimination. If you’re reading this article, you have some fear of bears. Let’s respect their freedom, and we take some precautions so that they don’t bother us,

I have a separate article on keeping black bears away from the campsite. So today, we’ll only talk about the smells that repel bears and the scent that attracts bears. If you’re aware of such smells, you can camp or hike safely without fearing bears.

Read Also: 24 Smells That Mosquitoes Hate?

Smells that repel bears
Janko Ferlic from Pexels, thanks for this beautiful photo

Five smells that deter or repel bears

Bears have a divine nose which is very powerful in recognizing any smell. If they can smell their favorite scents effortlessly, they will also sense the scents they don’t like.

Let’s trigger such smells and use them to repel bears.

  • Neem oil seems to contain something that bears don’t like.
  • Bears don’t like the smell of anything that has a pine scent. Use pine sol or pine oil to repel bears. If you’re using pine sol, mix 1 cup pine sol with 1 cup water inside a spray bottle.
    Spray the prepared pine oil solution inside your garbage, spray it on a cloth attached to your backpack, place a sprayed material near your food, and spread some solution outside your tent. Moreover, pine sol can level repel lizards and mosquitoes.
  • Soak a cloth in cider vinegar or ammonia and hang it on the windows and doors of your tent, RV, car, etc.
  • The smell of Lysol also repels bears.
  • Bear pepper spray can be used to defend yourself from the bear. Please don’t use a strong spray because bears are alive and cry and feel pain. Use any spray only when you don’t have any other option left to defend yourself.

Five smells that attract bears

The list of some smells that are very attractive to bears:

  • Your remaining meal
  • Perfume
  • scents
  • Deodorants
  • Garbage
  • Any that has a sharp odor like fragrance soap, clothes, etc.

Read the FAQs for Extra Bears Safety

Does bug spray attract bears?

It depends on the spray you’re using. Generally, the bug spray that has a good odor seems to attract bears.

Does picaridin attract bears?

According my information bears have no interest in DEET or picaridin.

Does citronella attract bears?

All citronella products have a strong scent which can attract bears. You may be using citronella to mosquitoes but if you’re in Black Bear Country then please don’t do the mistake of using citronella.

Are bears attracted to mint?

Yes, bears are attracted to mint. The wardens of many state parks suggest not have mint gum or mint toothpaste in your tent because bears can smell it and go for it which may cause trouble for you.

Does human poop attract bears?

Both urine and poop are known to attract bears so keep your bathroom a little away from your campsite. Use the leave no trace method to be safe from attracting bears.

Can bears smell fear?

The record shows that bears have no problem with your fear but black bears can attack for any reason. So don’t do any mischievous thing near a black bear. At last, fear is not a solution to any problem. Keep your mind calm in such a situation and find a way to get away from the eyes of angry bears.

Can bears smell packaged food?

Bears have a great nose that can smell anything no matter how packed it is. So the best is to keep all your food far from your tent.

Can bears smell water?

If the water bottle is not kept near food then you don’t have to worry but if a person is eating and drinking water from the bottle at the same time then it can attract bears as the water bottle now has some scent of food.

How strong is a Bears smell?

Bloodhounds have a 300 times better sense of smell than dogs. A bear sense of smell is 7 times better than the bloodhounds.

Can bears smell menstruation?

This question is not yet completely answered since 1988. However, there is no evidence that bears are attracted to menstrual odors. According to a report of Yellowstone National Park, In 1983 the free-ranging polar bears detected and consumed food scent samples and used tampons, and ignored non-menstrual blood and unused tampons. This shows that polar bears seem to attracted to the odor related to menstrual blood. But this is not so with the bears that roam in North America.

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Thursday 23rd of March 2023

Thank you for the information about the smells that attract bears. We are going to Greenville, Maine in August which is 2 hours pass Acadia National Park and next to Moosehead Lake. We want to go hiking from the house we are renting and I am concerned about bears since recently we have them coming into our backyard in Windsor, CT. Chances seem greater to me hiking in Maine to see a bear. My daughter, two young grandchildren and myself want to go hiking from the house and I was just thinking maybe we would bump into a bear. No snacks for sure now, just water and pine sol. I can't believe All Trails now have bug spray and a cleanser spray that have citronella as one of the ingredients on their website to buy to protect from mosquitos but will attract bears. I almost bought the smell good mosquito spray. Not now! Thank you


Sunday 26th of March 2023

Glad you like the article, there are many natural sprays that you can use to repel mosquitoes that may also repel bears or at least not attract them. You may like to read this article:


Tuesday 19th of July 2022

Hi, Thanks for your posts. I am going on my first thru-hike and I am wondering how truly effective Neem Oil and Pine-Sol or Pine-oil are for deterring bears and mosquitos. Have you experienced them really working? And if so, how much do you use? Thanks!


Wednesday 20th of July 2022

I don't have experience with pine sol, but neem oil and smoke genuinely deter mosquitoes. Though I have personally not encountered bears, my friends and other people say that using pine-scented and neem smoke will create a screening around foods and garbages that makes it hard for bears to figure out the food they like and thus reducing the chances of a bear attack.

Have a great thru-hike and implement the tips I've shared and send me your feedback about how it helped you; or if it was a waste.

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