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The 10 Best Smells in the World

Posted on 30th April 2018

With almost 50 years’ experience, we’ve certainly tackled a variety of odours for business owners and nearby residents alike over the years.

As discussed in What makes things smell?, we’re able to recognise hundreds of thousands of smells by identifying molecules – these molecules are detected at the top of the nasal passage by neurons covered in tiny hairs (cilia) – odour molecules bind themselves to these cilia which in turn triggers the neuron to perceive a smell.

Smells are difficult to articulate due to their complexity and are generally the least discussed sense – we’re well versed with describing what we see, hear or taste, but we often have to resort to using other descriptions of things to help us shape our definition of a particular scent.

So, what exactly are the best smells in the world? If you take a moment to browse online, you’ll quickly see it’s certainly an exhausted subject.

It’s scientifically proven that smells are deep-rooted in the olfactory bulb – the area where smells are processed and analysed. When a familiar, nostalgic or notable smell passes through the olfactory bulb it can trigger a memory or even emotion – so really, what we consider a universally accepted ‘best smell’ could also be referred to as a ‘familiar’ or ‘evoking’ smell.

But what smells are scientifically proven to be the most stimulating to the nose? As leaders in the odour abatement industry, we thought it only right that we find out

Freshly Cut Grass
The smell of freshly cut grass is generally associated with spring and the approach of better weather. The compound cis-3-hexenal is released when grass is cut, a compound that’s present in fruits such as bananas, grapes and strawberries, which could indicate why the UK has such a wide preference for the smell. Despite this, did you know the smell that’s released when grass is being preened is actually a plant distress signal?

It’s loved by millions around the world and has become part of many UK residents morning routine – made up of over 1,000 compounds, research has suggested the smell of coffee can actually give us a boost before we even take that first sip. Starbucks attributed a decline in coffee sales a few years back to an accidental coverup of their coffee odour in stores – they realised the smell of their breakfast sandwiches overpowered that of their coffee, so quickly adjusted!

Freshly Baked Bread
There’s no denying it, freshly baked bread is certainly mouth-watering and voted again and again as one of the best smells in the UK – it’s a tried and tested tactic to bake a fresh loaf in a home before any prospective house buyers come over for a viewing. More than that, however, studies suggest that the smell can trigger happy and even charitable emotions – in a study conducted by French scientists, researchers found that those that passed the smell of baked goods were more likely to help a passer-by than that of a person who had no exposure.

For meat eaters, bacon rouses memories of indulgent weekend mornings alongside a hearty fry-up – it’s no wonder it pops up time after time in ‘best smells’ surveys. For anyone that’s cooked bacon at home, they’ll know the smell quickly fills the house – scientists have discerned that the distinctive smell derives from a process known as the Maillard Reaction, a process that sees sugars and amino acids break down into 150 different compounds. These compounds are proven to be incredibly enticing, and certainly explains why it’s always on the top of people’s breakfast choices.

The zingy smell of any citrus fruit is certainly refreshing – it’s sharp scent easily breaks through that of others and can be associated with tropical destinations or warmer seasons in the UK. More than its distinguishing scent, citrus is actually thought to increase alertness and give sniffers a quick energy boost, with lemons even considered to reduce stress.

The refreshing smell of mint is loved by millions around the world – often used in cooking, aromatherapy and breath freshening products, the slow-growing herb has associations with freshness and cleanliness. Alongside its digestible health benefits, mint has even been suggested to enhance cognitive functions – enhancing energy, attention span and even the ability to problem solve.

The creamy smell of vanilla is fragrant and elegant, it’s no wonder it’s used in endless bottles of fragrance and beauty products both in the UK and around in the world. Many associate the smell of vanilla with childhood memories and the soft earthy tones of the plant is widely considered to be a soothing and stress reducing.

The Sea
The fresh smell of sea air is unmistakable – and is generally associated with travelling to seaside towns or going on holiday abroad for residents in the UK. Research has pinned down the smell to the dimethyl sulphide (DMS) compound – a compound that has been described using words such as sulphur and boiled cabbage – not exactly the best smell in the world, but certainly nostalgic and loved by many.

Petrichor is the name given to the smell that’s produced when rain hits the ground. The distinctive smell that’s produced is due to two chemical reactions – the release of oils secreted by plants during dry periods and when actinomycete bacteria found in soil is released. The smell has many pleasant associations and is widely regarded by many as one of their favourite smells.

The fragrant smell of rosemary is hard to miss – the Mediterranean herb is distinctive with woody, earthy notes. Loved and enjoyed by both professional and enthusiastic home chefs around the world, the herb is often used for aromatherapy alongside cooking – rosemary is widely considered to stimulate the body, improving memory, focus and overall intelligence.

Like or loathe it, the above list documents various smells that are certainly nostalgic in the minds of many around the world – but like we said, dimethyl sulphide isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!

If your business requires assistance with odour issues, no matter the smell, contact Parsons today to see how we can help. We’re able to offer both permanent and rental odour abatement solutions to suit businesses big and small.

Contact us today on or by telephone on 01922 404 318.

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