Blog Post

How Smell Works

The Deodorizer Bag is all about eliminating odors, but how exactly does our sense of smell work anyway?  Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted our senses, but they really are complex and intricate processes, and smell just may be at the top of that list.

Smell is Often Our First Responder

In fact, smell may be the fastest responding sense that we have. In many cases, we are able to smell stimuli way before we can see or hear it. For example, you often smell something burning long before you see a flame or hear an explosion. In the same way, we are lucky to be able to smell if food has gone bad before we taste it, which could be harmful to our health. It is this fast response that makes smell so appealing to researchers of all kinds, including scientists, neurologists, and even perfume manufacturers.

The Process of Smell

So how does smell work exactly? Well, when an odor comes into contact with us, sensory cells called chemoreceptors, are stimulated. This stimulation causes an electrical impulse to travel to the brain, making us aware of the smell. Once we process and interpret the smell, we are able to perceive it-as fire, roses, the smell of a baby, or even old feet. Once we register a new smell, it is categorized and will be remembered the next time we come into contact with it.

Smell & Emotion

This is also one of the reasons smell is so linked to emotion. Each time we experience a smell, we unconsciously link it to an event. We are then able to remember countless smells and associate them with memories, places we’ve been, even moods, all with little effort on our parts.  This is why you may have experienced the sensation of walking down the street and suddenly remembering something from your childhood because of a smell that you categorized long ago. It also explains why you associate the scent of moth balls with your Grandma Ruth or the smell of cigars with your Uncle Jack. In many cases, the smell may be so subtle that you aren’t even directly aware of it until a memory strikes.

This also plays a large part in why people have such different opinions on smells. You may love the scent of lavender because it was once associated with a fond memory, while someone else may dislike it because they smelled it at a funeral when they were just a child. For most people, they aren’t actually aware of the event that caused the like or dislike. They just know they like or dislike how something smells.

Now you know there may be more to your love or hate of certain smells. And that’s nothing to turn your nose up at.

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