I've seen that in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches while doing (what I would call a type of) exorcism some claim to smell the demon. They express the smell as "sour" or something rotten.

Bible Knowledge describes the smell as putrid and toxic and also like burning sulfur.

Oral Roberts claimed he could smell them in a person, and Tom Brown Ministies says it's type discernment.

According to Let Us Reason, Joyce Meyer described the smell as a "stench."

Is there any biblical scripture that explicitly or implicitly suggests that demons have any odor?

  • @downvoter can you please explain why you down voted, is the question unclear? What do you not understand? Please specify so that I may improve the question. – Barnstokkr Feb 23 '15 at 12:01
  • I don't think this deserves DV but why do you think a demon should have pleasant smell? :) – Mawia Feb 23 '15 at 12:08
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    @Mawia Because I don't understand why they should have smells at all :) – Barnstokkr Feb 23 '15 at 12:10
  • From the experience of many people, they say that demons have very bad odor. But we are not allowed to answer here with such information and the Bible doesn't provide either. :( – Mawia Feb 23 '15 at 12:19
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    I have edited your question to remove the separate, and unscoped question about Christian commentary on demons. If you want to ask that as a separate question, that might be appropriate, if you can scope it to a particular denomination or belief system. – Flimzy Feb 23 '15 at 16:13

It appears that there is no explicit reference in the bible to point to anything that suggests that demons have any odor.

However, I really wanted to make sense of this (strange for me) phenomenon, so I put some thought into how to understand this.

How do you detect if something has an odor?

You smell it... stating the obvious.

How do you smell something (like coffee)?

With your nose... again stating the obvious

So, how do you smell things in the spiritual realm like demons?

With a spiritual nose or some equivalent.

Spiritual senses

The only spiritual sense that is dominantly shown in the bible is spiritual sight.

2 Kings 6:14-17 (KJV)

Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Taking 2 Corinthians 4:18 (KJV) literally:

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

It appears from these passages that the ability to see spiritual beings is supported explicitly (for those whom God has given the ability). We can call this spiritual sight.

From spiritual eyes (sight) I would guess that it's not such a far reach to claim that other spiritual senses can exist like

  • spiritual ears (hear)
  • spiritual nose (smell)
  • spiritual mouth (taste)

This makes user19940's answer more complete; if something is "unclean" you can typically smell it (the way I check whether my clothes are clean :P); and if you can smell the spiritual realm then you could be able to smell spiritual beings like unclean spirits like demons (again if God gives you the ability).

This is a bit of a (weird) stretch answer I know, but I hope you found it at least as an interesting view point.


In the bible, KJV, Paul uses both in Ephesians 5:2

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

and Philipians 4:18

But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

From this we can extract that good deeds produce a good smell.

Furthermore, by not having its sins washed (Revelation 1:5) (reference to cleaning; it might be possible to wash something bad as well, but it's Jesus we're talking about here, if He washes then it gets perfectly washed), the devil is a «corrupt tree» (Matthew 7:18) and so «cannot bring forth good fruit». Therefore, it's not possible for a devil to have a sweet-smelling aroma / smell good.

Assuming one can either smell good or bad, here is the answer you were looking for.

  • I wouldn't downvote your answer, but the examples you give - both passages - are about something being as a sacrifice -or offering, and it's to God. It's not an actual aroma - a pleasant smell that is sensed by humans. These verses is totally different context, different audience and described as an offering. To extrapolate from these verses that we can interpret this as evidence that demons have a bad odor is eisegesis. – Tennman7 Jan 11 at 22:35

IV. Jesus cast out unclean spirits:

  • Mark 1:23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

  • Mark 5:2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,

  • Luke 9:42 And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.

If the spirits are unclean, they can carry an odor. Discernment of spirits is seeing, hearing, touching, and smelling these unclean spirits.

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    This answer is very incomplete. It all rests on your assertion that, "If the spirits are unclean, they can carry an odor." Can you expand your answer to explain why you make this connection? – MR. TOODLE-OO'D Feb 28 '15 at 15:02
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    "Unclean" doesn't have much to do with hygiene as it does with holiness. Demons are considered unclean spirits because they are not holy. Likewise, certain animals are considered unclean because they are not fit to be offered as sacrifices (i.e., they are not holy), not because a camel smells any worse than a cow. – user900 Sep 10 '15 at 0:22

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