Why Does My Creatine Smell Bad? (6 Smelly Creatine Facts)

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Creatine is typically described as having no taste or odour. With that being said, some users report a mild sour smell, but definitely nothing bad. If brand-new creatine smells bad return it to the manufacturer for a replacement or refund. You should also be wary of where you store creatine, as it can be affected by heat, humidity, and direct sunlight. A sealed creatine container can last a long time, even a year or two past the expiry date. However, if the container has been unsealed for over 36 months you should replace it.

Creatine Should Be Odourless

Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS, FNSCA: "Creatine monohydrate does have a slightly sweet odor, but it's very mild and shouldn't be noticeable unless you're smelling it directly from the container."

Firstly, let’s get this straight, creatine should be odourless.

With that being said, I have seen some users describe it as having a mild sour smell.

There are even those who say it has a slightly chalky smell.

I guess this all comes down to us having different senses to each other, where some may be more sensitive to smell than others.

However, when you first purchase creatine, and even if you’ve had a tub for quite a while, it should not be emanating any particular bad smell.

Why Does My Creatine Smell Like Fish?

If your creatine supplement emits a fish-like scent, it often suggests that the product has spoiled or deteriorated. Normally, creatine monohydrate is a stable substance that shouldn’t emit any potent smells, particularly not one reminiscent of fish. In such cases, it is advisable to discard the supplement and avoid consuming it.

I researched the smelly creatine phenomenon online and I was quite surprised by what I found.

In fact, I came across various online fitness forums and Question & Answer websites where a multitude of people were complaining about the smell of creatine.

This is when you immediately know that there’s something wrong with your particular container.

In fact, one user had only just purchased a brand new tub and proclaimed that once opened it gave off an extremely strong fishy smell.

Registered dietitian and ISSN sports nutrition specialist Michelle Braun: "If your creatine smells fishy, that's not a good sign. It could be a sign of contamination or spoilage. I recommend throwing it out and getting a new batch from a reputable source."

As I’ve mentioned, creatine should be odourless, and if you find it does have a smell to it, this definitely shouldn’t be anything bad.

So, our fishy friend has quite clearly received a container that has gone bad for whatever reason.

He did mention that he had purchased creatine decanate, which is slightly different from the standard monohydrate.

Creatine decanate is a micronized creatine.

This simply means that the creatine is essentially monohydrate, but the molecules have been cut up or divided.

This basically increases the surface area of the creatine, which promotes faster absorption and can reduce potential stomach discomfort.

And this is just one of the many forms of creatine.

But, in reality, even a different type of creatine should NOT smell of fish.

There was definitely something wrong with his container.

Even a small amount of water coming into contact with creatine during the manufacturing process can have an impact.

However, if your creatine smells of fish you know for a fact that you probably shouldn’t be consuming it, as it’s likely to make you feel sick.

Immediately return the creatine to the manufacturer and either ask for a replacement or a refund.

Does Creatine Make You Smell?

I must admit that I often chuckle to myself about some of the things I read online.

In fact, I found one creatine user who was convinced that creatine made him smell of onions.

He had even “tested” this for himself.

On the days that he consumed creatine he states that he definitely gave off an oniony smell.

And this was even after he had washed and showered.

However, as a test, he decided to go without creatine for a couple of days, and claimed that his onion smell had disappeared.

Now, I don’t want to go into the ins-and-outs of this individual’s personal hygiene, diet, or even his sweat glands, but this is clearly mighty strange.

Not only should creatine be tasteless and odourless, it certainly shouldn’t make you smell any different when consumed.

Okay, our oniony friend has convinced himself that creatine is clearly to blame, but I would hazard a guess that there’s another explanation.

So, I will categorically state that creatine does not make you smell.

Where Are You Storing Your Creatine?

Okay, so you now know that if your brand new creatine gives off a pungent whiff that you should definitely be returning it.

However, what about if you’ve had a tub of creatine for a few weeks and it suddenly starts giving off a terrible odour?

This may have something to do with where you’re storing your creatine.

Creatine should always be stored in a cool and dry place.

As with most powders you probably don’t want to store it anywhere that the temperature gets above 70F.

Dr. Jörn Fitschen, Sports Scientist and Researcher: "Store your creatine powder in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Heat and moisture can degrade the creatine and make it less effective."

Okay, I understand that due to climatic temperatures this isn’t always possible, but obviously do the best you can.

However, if you’re storing your creatine container in the open, especially near heat or direct sunlight, it has a greater chance of going bad.

Plus, humidity can also have an effect.

So, you don’t particularly want your container to be near the cooker or microwave.

You don’t want it on a shelf near a window so that it’s in direct sunlight.

And it’s not a good idea to store it next to the boiler.

You probably shouldn’t store ant type of supplement in your car either, especially during very hot weather.

Admittedly, storing creatine in a warmer environment or in direct sunlight may not have any effect at all.

But, why take the chance?

How Long Have You Had Your Creatine?

Something else to be aware of is the expiry date of your creatine.

The vast majority of supplements will have a specific expiry date.

This is usually within a maximum of 3 years of the product’s production.

However, in truth, a sealed container of creatine that has been stored in a cool and dry place will typically last up to a year or two past expiry.

With that being said, if you’ve had an open container for more than 36 months, I would suggest you throw it away and replace it.

I know most of us generally purchase creatine and use it on a regular basis.

Therefore, we never get anywhere near the actual expiry date.

But, this is definitely something you should be aware of.

Should I Use Creatine Capsules?

Brian St. Pierre, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist: "If you find the taste of creatine unpleasant, some flavored powders can mask it effectively. However, pills generally won't have any taste."

I know that some users are put off by the fact that their creatine smells bad.

So, they could be swayed to take creatine capsules.

In truth, if you’ve purchased a good quality creatine there should be absolutely no difference between pills and powder.

I’ve heard people state that capsules get into the circulation quicker, but I pay very little attention to this.

Creatine supplementation is all about flooding the muscles with creatine and then maintaining this state.

So, once you’ve achieved this either through loading or regular consumption it makes very little difference how “quickly” creatine is absorbed.

I will say that creatine powder is less expensive than capsules, so this is something to consider if you’re on a tight budget.

Plus, creatine capsules will also have an expiration date, so they can in effect “go bad” too.

In reality, it just comes down to personal preference.

Final Thoughts

So, as you can see, if your creatine smells bad then it probably means that there is something wrong with it.

Creatine should definitely be odourless, but if there is a slight odour it should not smell bad.

If this is a new container then return it to the manufacturer.

You should also ensure that you store your creatine in a cool and dry place.

Plus, don’t forget that creatine does have an expiration date, so be wary of how long you’ve had the container.

So, that’s the “smell” dealt with, but here’s another common complaint, namely, why does creatine make you feel hungry?

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