How to Get That Campfire Smell Out of Your Hair


Have you ever wondered about how to get that persistent campfire smell out of your hair? In many cases, it can seem like your hair still smells like campfire smoke hours or days after leaving the camp – but don’t panic. Whether you’re still camping but need a quick fix before heading out for a meal or if you have headed home but just can’t get the smell away, today’s key tips could help.

How to Get that Campfire Smell Out of Your Hair

How to Get That Campfire Smell Out of Your Hair

There are few things nicer while out camping than sitting around the campfire, orange flames crackling away and the warm glow chasing away the cool night air. However, once you’ve left the campfire, it can often seem like the smoke smell lingers on your hair and clothes. So, what can you do about this if it’s been making your life a misery?

Well, there are a few options you could consider. Of course, there’s the obvious option to simply try and cover up the smell of smoke – but that won’t actually get it out of your hair properly. So, what are the other options to help control the smell of smoke on your hair? We’ve outlined everything that you need to know to help.

Also, for those struggling with smoke lingering on clothes too, you can read my article about that here.

Why Does My Hair Still Smell Like Campfire Smoke?

Before we can begin looking at how to get the campfire smell out of your hair, it’s crucial to clarify why this smell lingers. Indeed, aromas can hang around for quite a long period in the first place. Well, this can depend on a few factors, which is well worth keeping in mind.

Most notably, though, your hair is highly effective at absorbing strong odors, and campfire smoke falls into this category perfectly. With this thought in mind, taking steps to prevent your hair from absorbing odors as heavily – such as ensuring it remains nourished and undamaged – can help make it easier to stop your hair from smelling like campfire smoke.

But there’s only so much that caring for your locks can do. And, if you’re here now, there’s a good chance you’re already concerned about how to get the smell of campfire smoke out of your hair. As such, the following options may help you take back control after spending time around the flames.

How To Get Rid of the Campfire Smell in Your Hair By Washing with Shampoo and Conditioner

If you have access to a clean source of useable water, the most effective option to get rid of the campfire smell is simple: wash your hair (and wash it very well). Try to use a shampoo specifically designed for removing impurities and freshening your hair; opting for a scented shampoo may also help mask any lingering smell, making it harder to detect overall.

Before washing your hair, try to rinse it thoroughly with water to make sure that any loose debris and residue is rinsed off; wetting your hair thoroughly also makes it substantially easier to lather up the shampoo. Then, apply shampoo liberally to your wet hair, massaging well. It’s important to remember here that the smell of smoke will likely linger on your scalp, too; so, make sure you’ve cleaned every part of your head and hair thoroughly before rinsing the shampoo suds out.

At this point, you might feel like you’re ready to get out of the shower. However, depending on the amount of smoke you were exposed to, you may need to re-apply the shampoo again to help get out any remaining smell. Since your hair should already be clean by this point, this shouldn’t be too difficult to do.

If your hair still smells like campfire smoke after washing it twice, you may need to change brands. Some shampoo products are less effective than others; if you can’t get rid of that campfire smell in your hair, trying another bottle of shampoo could help.

Try to choose a brand that is reputed for providing high-quality hair-care products, where possible. This should help reduce the risk of getting a shampoo that’s weak and doesn’t clean things well.

Consider Using Hair Conditioning After Washing

If you’re likely to be exposed to the campfire smoke again, you may want to consider applying a small amount of conditioner to your hair. This can help provide a natural barrier (making it easier to keep your hair clean after).

Conditioning products often nourish, soften, and moisturize your hair. In turn, this can make them excellent for preventing the smoke particles from absorbing into your locks in the future.

How to Get Rid of the Campfire Smell Without Washing (On The Go)

Unfortunately, we don’t always have access to fresh running water. This can beg the question of how to get that campfire smell out of your hair when you can’t wash it, or in scenarios where washing proves to be ineffective?

Well, there are a few options you could actually try here that may help you freshen up quickly and effectively, allowing you to stay clean and happy.

#1 Try Dry Shampoo

When it comes to refreshing your hair while on the go, few options are better-known than dry shampoo. While it can’t usually beat a proper wash, it’s an excellent on-the-go solution to help eliminate the campfire smoke smell without access to water.

Dry shampoo works by absorbing excess oils from your hair,  which can help refresh your locks overall. This can also help control the smell of smoke, allowing you to feel a little more confident when you head out. 

It’s also worth noting here that many modern dry shampoos come with a fragrance to really help you freshen up. So, not only can they reduce the severity of the smoke smell, but they may also be effective for replacing it with something a little nicer.

Living Proof Dry Shampoo Advanced Clean

For Both Men & Women

  • Fast-Absorbing Powders
  • Powder Removal System
  • Order Neutralizers
  • Sebum Balancer
  • Conditioning Agents

#2 Apply Baking Soda

If you don’t have dry shampoo to hand, or if it’s not available in your local shop while camping, there’s a handy traditional alternative you can try: baking soda.

Baking soda can be applied in one of two ways. Exactly how you go about this will usually depend on your preference and the available resources.

For on-the-go use, it’s generally best to just use a little dry baking soda to gently sprinkle across your scalp, using your fingers or a brush to ensure even coverage. Make sure to apply a very thin layer so the baking soda doesn’t cause your hair to turn white, though!

Alternatively, if you have a water supply (it doesn’t need to be large), you can make up a baking soda paste and brush it through your hair first. Then, rinse your hair to remove any left over baking soda before cleaning as normal or allowing your hair to dry. The latter will typically need much less water than a regular shower. 

#3 Try Perfumes

If you need a quick on-the-go solution, perfumes could be your perfect option. Perfumes allow you to mask the scent of wood smoke (or, in some cases, even round it out into an altogether pleasant scent). As such, if you find yourself in a tight situation, knowing you have perfumes to fall back on can help. 

Try to choose a perfume that you can easily keep with you so you’re always covered when the need strikes. Make sure you also know where to apply the perfume for the strongest results. 

Some of the most common types of fragrance for women include floral, sweet, and sugary notes. Meanwhile, for men, woody, earthy, and masculine scents are generally a lot more common for the most part.

#4 Invest in a Purifier

Did you know that purifiers can offer an excellent solution to help reduce the smell of campfire smoke? While they are technically designed to remove contaminants from the air, purifiers can also help remove some order particles, helping you feel fresher. In turn, this can help get rid of campfire smells from your hair, although it may be slower-going than other options.

#5 Put Your Hood Up

In the end, there’s only so much we can do to manage the smell of wood smoke. However, you can lessen its impact. Putting your hood up during and after the campfire can allow you to reduce the amount of smoke lingering on your hair.

Moreover, if you get caught out in a situation where you won’t want to be called out for the wood smoke, wearing a hat or hoodie out can help mask some of the smell of wood smoke.

Final Thoughts

In many cases, working out how to get that campfire smell out of your hair can seem tricky; while washing alone may help mask the smokey aroma, this won’t always be enough to fully eliminate the campfire smell. Luckily, though, there are plenty of ways to get rid of the campfire smell in your hair, and today’s tips can make a lot of difference in this regard overall. 

So, whether you’re heading out or if you just want to freshen up, don’t forget to try them when you get a chance.

Mitch Taylor
With over 20 years experience with camping and hiking, I've taken it upon myself to share my insights. From common camping and hiking questions to gear recommendations, your adventure starts here.

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