If you keep coming across references to shofar odor, don’t be alarmed. It’s not so bad. In fact, personally I would rather have a slight animal scent than a sanitized hospital or factory scent. After all, a shofar comes from an animal, not a manufacturing plant. And G-d wants us to keep that in mind when we blow it.
The source of the odor is remnants of particles of muscle, sinew or bone or blood-eating bacteria. Professional shofar makers heat the shofar to a high temperature, which kills the bacteria, rendering it harmless.
When Isaac blessed Jacob, Isaac said, “My son’s fragrance is like the fragrance of the field blessed by Hashem.” Jacob, of course, was wearing animal skins on his hands and neck, demonstrating that an animal smell is not necessarily a bad odor.
Still, if your shofar has an odor you find a bit too strong, you can try cleaning the shofar with any of the following:
- Synthetic vinegar
- Baking soda solution
- Aquarium gravel (avoid large or sharp pieces)
Just press your thumb against the mouthpiece, fill it with one of the above and shake thoroughly.
Never soak a shofar in oil (including olive oil) or liquid, which can damage it. Whichever method you use to clean the shofar be sure to rinse out the liquid with water to avoid causing permanent damage to the shofar.
A final option is to spend a few dollars on a bottle of Shofar OdorFree, a natural, biodegradable spray solution.