Thursday, February 17, 2011

Things I Like: #2 Smell

Sense of smell is a wonderful and complex thing. I wanted to write a short post on my favourite smells, but when I started writing it I remembered all sorts of fascinating facts about olfaction that I loved! Without smell, you wouldn’t be able to taste so many wonderful things. The tongue can detect 5 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami), but it’s smell that gives food its flavour (along with other influences). Block your nose and eat a cube of raw potato and a cube of peeled apple and it’s very difficult to tell the difference between the two without your sense of smell! Artificial strawberry flavouring is a mixture of up to 60 different chemicals, which react together and are perceived to be ‘strawberry flavour’ to the brain.

The wonders of sense of smell doesn’t just end with food. A newborn baby uses its sense of smell to identify its mother. Smell is one of the most powerful ways to remember things. One sniff can unlock memories of your grandmother’s cooking or the perfume/aftershave your first love wore. Memories you had long forgotten but after that triggering smell, makes you feel like your back there living it all again first hand.

Speaking of love, want to seduce a man? Various articles I’ve read have suggested that smells such as vanilla, cinnamon and pumpkin pie are the best scents to use. Whether or not this is true, I’m not sure but it’s worth a try! Smell plays an important part in sexual attraction, with or without the use of perfumes and aftershaves. A person’s natural body odour is apparently a key factor when it comes to attraction. A study has also found that men rate the smell of women who are ovulating as more pleasant than women who are not ovulating. This study also found a higher level of testosterone produced in men who had smelled the t-shirts worn by women during ovulation and that this response links to a caveman response of knowing when a woman is fertile just by her smell.

Smell is also used in marketing. Shops use scents to draw you in, whether its a supermarket and the smell of freshly baked bread or high-end fashion houses subtly using their signature scents to help sell more. Not to forget the smell of freshly baked goods when trying sell a house!

There are many different disorders of olfaction. Cacosmia is when things smells like faeces. Phantosmia is when smells are hallucinated. Hyperosmia is a heightened sense of smell. And while some sound funny, sometimes they are far from it. Anosmia is the inability to smell, which probably has it’s uses (like not being able to smell the BO off the person next to you on public transport), but overall giving that you can not smell gas leaks, when food is spoiled and fires, the negatives certainly outweigh any benefits.

And now for the real reason I wrote this post! My favourite scents.

1. Vanilla. I just love it and I don’t have any particular reason why! I guess it’s because it’s so sweet and comforting but yet such a simple, down to earth scent. It reminds me of vanilla ice cream as a child and queen cakes and being on holiday at my Nana’s, where I first smelt The Body Shop Vanilla perfume.

2. Freshly cut grass. Smells like long summer days, lying in fields and the sun shining on my face. It’s so refreshing! I even have a grass scented shower gel from Lush.

3. Freshly baked goods. There’s nothing more pleasant when grocery shopping than the warm freshly baked bread smell. Makes my mouth drool even thinking of it. And of course, walking into the house that smells of freshly baked goods is the second best reason to walk into a house (the first being eating those goodies!). Cinnamon is a lovely warm smell.

4. Turf and petrol. Not one for every day really, but given that there’s a Facebook page dedicated to people who love the smell of petrol, it’s pretty popular!

5. Fruity smells. My favourite being raspberry, apple, orange, lime and lemon. Zingy citrus smells give me energy!

6. Old books. And new books. I just like the smell of books!

7. Jean Paul Gaultier ‘Le Male’. Sex in a bottle.

8. Honeysuckle. I used to love to pick these along the road when I was younger, they have such a sweet smell. And I like the scent of roses too, though only when it’s subtle and not too strong.

9. Coffee. Though again, nothing too strong, otherwise it’s overpowering.

10. The smell of the countryside after it’s been raining. Everything just smells so fresh and new again. And speaking of water, the salty smell of the ocean can be lovely too.

11. Fresh washed clothes. Need I say more?

12. Onions being fried. I'm sure there are loads more food related smells I love but this one comes to mind first. My mouth is watering thinking about it!

To finish this post off, a little fact on Smells like Teen Spirit. Kurt Cobain apparently wrote the title of the song after being told he smelt like teen spirit. He thought that it had a revolutionary meaning, but it was in fact about how he actually smelt, of his then-girlfriend’s deodorant, Teen Spirit!


  1. I love the smell of fresh cut grass too! :D I remember the days when I used to roll on the grass as a kid, hahaha.

  2. YES! It's amazing. It reminds me of summer and I used to love it when the grass was being cut. I love lying in a field and being able to smell the grass and the earthiness of the soil too. I need to dig out my Lush shower gel. I have a soap that smells like it too

  3. I know, it's so relaxing laying out on grass and looking up at the sky and clouds :D

  4. Oh, I'm really looking forward to summer now!


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