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What are the causes of metallic body odor?

Updated February 21, 2017

Metallic body odour is a common condition caused by one or a combination of factors. The odour we recognise as a metallic smell is actually the smell of our body's chemistry reacting with the metal to form organic compounds.

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The high levels of iron in blood cause it to smell metallic even after it has dried. People with exposed wounds, dried blood or women on their menstrual cycle might have a metallic body odour.

Personal Products

Every individual's body responds differently to chemicals in products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, moisturisers and perfumes. Metallic mineral compounds mix with the body's unique blend of odorant molecules and might give off a metallic scent.


Some jobs require people to use metal tools or work with chemical compounds containing metal. This prolonged exposure to metals might cause the skin to react, causing a metallic odour.

Clothing and Accessories

Clothing and accessories that contain metal buttons, zippers and rivets might cause a chemical reaction when they contact the surface of the skin. Sweating increases the reaction to the metal and along with it the smell.


Metal does not actually have an odour of its own. The odour we have come to know as metallic is the smell of our individual body chemistry reacting with the metal to generate organic scent compounds.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Brian Airman

Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.

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