PETERBOROUGH, ON – The distinct smell of charcoal and woodsmoke continues to linger around an Ontario family three full days after returning from a weekend camping trip.
“I didn’t mind the smell at first,” says dad Jason Rigg, not-so-recently returned from the weekend at a drive-in campsite in Algonquin Park. “It was a pleasant reminder of a great weekend. But now it’s a reminder that I’m stuck inside for another year. Plus I’m pretty sure my co-workers have noticed.”
“Oh yeah, you can’t get away from it,” says coworker Stan Ryans. “Like, you can smell it, but also, it’s visible. You can actually see a thin ashy mist lingering over him and anywhere he’s recently been.”
Mom Joanne also found herself returning to her classroom today inside a pigpenesque cloud of smoky odour, despite repeated bathings and buying new clothes. “It’s confusing the children,” she says of her fourth grade students, “half of them are afraid the school is on fire and the other half keep asking for s’mores.”
Other family members have also attempted to rid themselves of the scent. “I tried using my vanilla shampoo, like five times” says daughter Jackie, 16, “but now my hair just smells like an ice cream parlour that burnt down.”
Removing campfire smell from your clothes, hair, skin, and soul is tricky, according to domestic expert Helen Fullier, author of Stain Free, You and Me. “There’s only one thing you can do with your clothes once that smell gets in them,” she says. “First, sprinkle everything that was affected with a light dusting of baking soda. Then lay all the items in a well-ventilated area and burn them until there’s nothing left. Of course, then you’ll have to burn everything you wore to THAT bonfire, so you can see how it can get to be a problem.”
But it’s not only the family’s clothes that have been affected. The Rigg family car still reeks of burning, even though it was parked upwind from the campsite and has been sitting in the driveway with the windows rolled down and all four doors wide open since the family returned from the park.
“Bronte has it the worst,” says Joanna, referring to the family dog, a friendly black lab. “The smell is just oozing out of her, it’s so deep in her fur, and it’s so hard to get her into a bath. The weird thing is – she didn’t even come camping with us.”
The family is already making plans to ensure their next vacation does not involve a campfire. “We’re thinking of driving down to California, or checking out the west coast,” says Jeremy. “You’re not even allowed to have a campfire there.”