“Every city, let me tell you, has its own scent.” So said E.M. Forster in A Room With A View. As a hobbyist perfumer, I'm fascinated by scents—especially date scents.

It was a precious and rare bottle of the 1905 fragrance, L'Origan, that got me into a hobby. She opened the box in which it was delivered and was immediately covered with the smell that prompted a newspaper reporter to exclaim: "All Paris smells of L'Oriente!" The fragrance may leak out a bit. It was a moment of euphoria. I smelled the world the way people smelled it long ago. The men who created this fragrance are now footnotes on the faded pages of history. . . But that was their legacy and I am now a part of it.

Since that day, the fragrance and scent of the world has become an absolute obsession. I got all the rare and most exotic perfumes and ingredients that I could and started making my own. I even posted several of my perfume formulas online. I have focused all my attention on understanding smell: its psychological effect on us and the very powerful control it has over our sense of memory.


When I was sixteen, my first vacation in Europe took me. But it wasn't the Eiffel Tower or Buckingham Palace or the canals of Venice that stayed with me long after the trip was over - it was the ordinary aspects of life: things that locals take for granted: the color of road signs and signals, posters in storefronts, local snacks, And the sounds - and most importantly - the smells of the place.

And that brings us to this list. Here is a compilation of ten important places, things, and smells. Please be aware that some of the content in this list is annoying.



vacuum space. It should not have an odor. Yet she is. First, there's a giant ball of sweet rum that smells of gas in the center of the galaxy (the chemical is called Ethyl Formate). Why is it there? nobody knows. From astronaut reports, we know that other space odors are also foods related to each other that they refer to as sulfur and meaty. Another astronaut, Thomas Jones, reported: "When you re-pressurize the airlock and you get out of your suit, there's a distinct odor of ozone, a faint pungent odor, [. . . ] also similar to burnt gunpowder or the ozone odor of electrical equipment."

Don Pettit, the science officer at the International Space Station, had his own notes: “The best description I can come up with is a metal one; a rather pleasant metallic feel. It reminded me of summers in college where I worked many hours using an arc welding torch to repair heavy equipment for a group Cut down small trees. It reminded me of the sweet-smelling welding fumes. This is the smell of space."

Obviously in a vacuum you can't smell anything directly, but there are millions of particles floating around that have an odor and when they stick to astronauts' suits or enter through airlocks these observations are made. Interestingly enough, NASA attempted to replicate the scent on Earth as part of their training for future astronauts.



Saints smell. Okay . . . Some saints do this. The smell of holiness (Osmogenesia, or Odore di santità as the Italians say) is the antithesis of the smell of Odore di zolfo - the smell of death, sulfur. This scent of holiness comes in many different forms. For some saints, the smell begins to appear from their bodies after death - it is often accompanied by incorruption, and for others it is a sweet smell that they emit during their lives without explanation. For some, it is in the form of sweet-smelling liquids that seep from the tomb that contains the saint's bodily remains. One of the most astonishing stories about the scent of holiness is the story of Saint Simeon Al-Amoudi (died 459 AD) who lived 37 years on a pillar with his skin slowly rotting under the things he was wearing. It was said that the saint exudes the scent of myrrh. Tragically, the pillar it was standing on was destroyed by a missile in Aleppo in 2016.

What does holiness smell like? Almost all cases described it as sweet, with notes of honey, butter, roses, violets, frankincense, myrrh, pipe tobacco, jasmine, and lilies. It is also accompanied by a sense that the scent is a worldly scent. In the century, the body of Saint Polycarp, while burning on the stake, was said to fill the air with the scent of incense, and Saint Therese of Lisieux (her uncorrupted body protected by a thin layer of wax is depicted above) with the scent of roses, lilies and violets. It is also said that scar wounds smell like a saint.



When someone dies, the most common odor released is the smell of acetone (the fruity-smelling chemical used as nail polish remover). However, in some cases, this is combined with an unpleasant odor caused by a specific disease from which a person dies.

Once death arrives, the body begins to decompose and a number of aptly named chemicals appear: cadaverine and putrescine are the first, and as their names suggest, they smell of rotting and rotting flesh! Why do our bodies release these chemicals? Some believe it is an evolutionary trait designed to be a warning beacon to others that danger is near. It is believed to spark flight, or the fighting mechanism of humans.

Other chemicals are also released: hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs. Skatole smells like feces. Methanethiol smells like rotten cabbage. And dimethyl sulfide smells like garlic. A true mixture of nefarious fumes. Will you be upset when you know that these are all used as food additives and are also used in many perfumes? A little stench adds so much beauty to a sterile blend of ingredients. In nature, these unpleasant additions are found in flowers to attract insects - and likewise they attract us.



Spectators of the Roman Colosseum enjoyed a huge number of diverse performances: from gladiator fights to hunting live animals with exotic animals. And of course, at a later period, Christians were killed in Christian persecution in a variety of ways including being dismembered by wild animals.

But the Roman people were kind of sensitive and found blood smelled unpleasant, so the Colosseum had a very clever trick to help. Over the heads of the paying guests was a canopy (called a velarium), the purpose of which was to protect people from the harsh rays of the sun and ward off rain in case it fell. In addition, the cleverly hidden tubes were constantly spraying scented water on the canopy in order to partially reduce the smell of death, but also to moisten the heads of spectators and keep them cool. They are complemented by fountains in the form of statues, which also emit aromatic water. The primary ingredients in the fragrance were saffron, and our Rabbina which was recently banned by the European Union for use in any products that come into contact with human skin.



While we're on the topic of outer space: What about planets? We can roughly guess the smell of different planets due to the chemical composition of their atmosphere.

Venus smells like rotten eggs due to the clouds of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere, similarly sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide are the cause of the smell of Mars and Uranus themselves.

Jupiter: Since each layer of its atmosphere is made up of different chemicals, the smell depends on where you are. In some layers, you will smell delicious bitter almonds due to unpleasant hydrogen cyanide, while in other layers (the ones near the top) you will smell bad ammonia (cleaning products). The almond-like smell of cyanide occurs naturally in flowers such as jasmine in the (essentially harmless) form of benzyl cyanide.

Most of the remaining planets are odorless due to atmospheres of largely odorless gases.



I have a passion for ancient Egypt. As a teenager I couldn't get enough of books about ancient civilization. I taught myself to read basic hieroglyphs, studied the names of all the gods, and even decided one day to move to Egypt and restore the previous pharaonic dynasties. My dream of becoming the next king of Egypt did not come true, but I did not lose my fascination with the place. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't visited yet.

If you've been to a Catholic church, you probably know the smell of frankincense and myrrh as they are the main ingredients in the most commonly used church incense. The ancient Egyptians used the same resins in their temples, so it was the smell of penetrating incense that most likely met you when you entered the place. And again, like our churches, the Egyptians filled their churches with flowers. The most common were lotus flowers and other marsh plants and reeds. The lotus smells very sweet - like a fruit. And although this nasty sweetness would have dominated, the wet bog plants would have added a basic smell of water and dirt. Other scented flowers present were jasmine, with its hypnotic fecal scent of indole, sweet flowering rose, and the strong scent of fresh mandarin, with its dried tobacco scent.

The next possible smell of the temple would be the smell of food: offerings to the deities of the gods. Usually these are fresh bread and grilled meat. At this point, you can imagine that the temple would smell like Christmas in a modern country village! At some times of the year milk, herbs, and vegetables were served, and after a short while they would give an unpleasant, putrid smell to the whole.

How perfect could the agglomeration of scents be? All the hateful elements of life united in one place. Combine with that the solemn chants of ancient priests, the distant sounds of exotic animals kept as pets, and the musical instruments of street beggars and you bring out a truly fascinating insight into life in ancient Egypt.



In 1942 the ghettos were dissolved by the Nazi government and mass train deportations began. There was no rest stop in the toilet, no patient amenities except for one bucket in the corner that, needless to say, soon became unusable. The entire trip from city to city was soaked in the stench of vomit, feces, and urine. The ugliest aspects of the animal side of man are seen, both on and off the trains.

For those who were in the camps who had witnessed cremation, the smell was different from anything they had smelled before. When the meat is cooked to eat, we smell the smell of meat burning. It is not so when the human body burns. The disgusting smell that people in the camps felt daily consisted mainly of a beef-like smell of burnt meat and a pork-like smell of human fat. This will be accompanied by harmful sulfur smells from burning hair and nails, a copper metal smell from burning iron-rich blood and organs, and spinal fluid burning with a sweet musky scent reminiscent of perfume. It smells so intense that it can almost be tasted.

Then came the consequences. The American soldiers who arrived to liberate the camps claimed they could smell the stench long before they saw it. “The stench covered the whole countryside . . . for miles around.” “The disease—typhus, dysentery, tuberculosis—was universal. The incinerator was running around the clock . . . . the stench of death and heaps of human excrement overwhelmed it,” said one individual.



In the early hours of the morning of April 15, 1912, the massive body of the Titanic, split in two, descended to its tomb at the bottom of the ocean. More than 1,300 lives were lost that night.

Varnish, paint, and freshly sawn wood were the primary scents that welcomed passengers on board. In those days paint was still made of lead and contained large amounts of linseed oil. There was a smell of smoke from the coal-fired engines and on that fateful night the wonderful smells of roast duck, lamb and beef, all of which were on the first-class menu.

In the same year, the famous French perfume house Guerlain just launched L'Heure Bleue (the bluish watch): "Velvety soft and romantic, it is a fragrance of bluish dusk and anticipation of the night, before the first stars appear in the sky. [13] It was expensive and in high demand. It sure was smelled by many women on the first-class deck.The fragrance can still be bought today and it is undeniable that it still has a quality that reminds of that fateful night.

But at 11 p.m. on April 14, 1912, another scent began to appear: a metallic scent with a metallic edge. It was the smell of an iceberg. Just as the ice in your freezer picks up on the different smells of the other foods stored there, icebergs will take on the scent of their surroundings. The interaction of animals living in the sea contribute to this, as well as the chemical composition of the water that makes up the iceberg. Recognizing the weak metallic smell of ice may not have saved the ship, but it may have increased the overall number of survivors. In the photo, the iceberg is believed to have hit the Titanic; It shows traces of ship paint.



Medicines have been used for thousands of years in their natural form. It wasn't until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that we were persuaded to avoid them and to take medicines in compound form by pharmaceutical companies. Most of us probably wouldn't recognize the smell of the drug if we hit it in the face (except maybe marijuana because few people have a chance not to inhale that at least once). Here is a small list of common drugs and their smell:

  1. Opium: It has a sweet smell that is slightly burnt when smoked.
  2. Heroin: Burning heroin releases a very strong vinegar smell. The higher the quality, the less the smell, but all forms will smell to a certain degree. It smells because heroin is produced from opium in a way that leaves vinegar behind as a residue. It's the vinegar smell that drug dogs look for.
  3. Cocaine: Primarily a scent of methyl benzoate, a floral chemical that gives tuberose its rich aroma and distinct vego flavour. Drug dogs sniff out this chemical with vinegar as mentioned earlier.



First, Queen Marie Antoinette of France did not say "Let them eat cake!". I hesitate to mention it because every website in the world has now copied our list of historical myths from 2007 in which the internet taught us this little fact, but twelve years later we have a new audience so it needs to be repeated just in case.

Queen Mary and her husband, King Louis XVI, lived in the Palace of Versailles. It is a great place that I highly recommend you to visit when you are in next France. We all imagine life was full of wonderful perfumes, pastries, princes, and incense, but what we don't imagine are the other two: pee and feces. Plumbing was somewhat lacking in the 18th century and the Palace of Versailles had minimal built-in facilities (flush toilets are only found in the royal apartments). As a result, when nature was called, the main choice was a small porcelain bowl called a bordalo. The women weren't wearing underwear so they tied their skirts and went to town (as you can see in the photo above). But the palace is big and sometimes people are surprised. In these cases, a quiet corner is sufficient. After all, the servants will clean up after you later. Combined with the smoke from failed chimneys and the lack of care from weary servants, the grand palace of Versailles was a foul-smelling place. 

The historic French candle maker (Cire Trudon) makes a scented candle like the floors of Versailles, which they describe as follows: "This royal fragrance radiates with the fumes of wax, candelabra and palace. A sumptuous trail of incense weaves through a tapestry of coniferous trees, sunlit by citrus fruits" . To get a truly authentic palace scent, you'll need to add your own scents. The scent of the candle is actually very subtle and very elegant. It's available for the hefty price of $100 on Amazon.

  • Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine (and crack) smells like burnt plastic with cleaning products like glass cleaner. Frequent use can lead to a person's skin smelling of ammonia. Massad.

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