Stop right now and take a minute to imagine the very first rain of spring. Do you remember what it sounds like? How about what it looks like? Do you remember the smell? In all likelihood, the smell of that first rain is something you are intimately familiar with. It is one of the few smells most people recognize
It turns out that nature offers a variety of lovely fragrances the nose knows quite readily. Spring rain is just one of them. Others include things like fresh cut grass, honeysuckle, a foggy mist, and beautiful lilies on Easter morning. If you step back and take account of all the natural fragrances you’ve ever smelled, it’s easy to believe that those fragrances are meant to be enjoyed
The Smell of Rain
The smell of rain is a unique smell unlike anything else. Science says that the smell is actually created by two things. Both are compounds that occur in nature. Rain releases those compounds to create the smell we associate with that first storm of spring.
The first compound comes from an oil plants produce between storms. Said oil inhibits germination, thus preventing plants from reproducing during periods of insufficient rain. When the rains finally do come, they wash away the oil to stimulate new germination and growth. What we smell are the compounds from that oil being released into the air.
The second compound is found in the soil. It is created by microbes that release it as a byproduct of simply living. When rain hits the soil, those compounds are also released into the air. That is why we smell that unique ‘earthy’ scent when soil gets wet.
The two compounds combined are what create the unique scent associated with rainfall. Most noses can tell the difference between genuine rainfall and the scent rising from a patch of lawn just watered with a hose. As subtle as that difference might be, the human nose can pick up on it.
The Scents of Essential Oils
Many of the scents we observe in nature come from the essential oils produced by plant life. For the record, an essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid with molecules that are easily evaporated at normal temperatures. These molecules are known as volatile chemical compounds.
Imagine a plant or flower you know to be especially fragrant. That strong smell you associate with the plant or flower is likely produced by an essential oil. You smell the fragrance because the molecules in that oil are highly volatile.
The odiferous properties of essential oils make them ideal candidates for air freshener products. And one of the hottest air freshening trends right now is whole-home diffusion. Zephyr, a Utah company that produces the Zephyr Fresh whole-home diffuser, looks to essential oils for freshening the air.
Not so Lovely Smells
It is impossible to talk about nature’s fragrances without acknowledging the fact that some of them do not smell so nice. Experiencing the smell of the season’s first rain is both pleasant and exhilarating. Smelling lovely roses and lilacs is equally pleasant. The same cannot be said if you are following behind a horse in a parade.
Some of nature’s smells are not designed to be enjoyed. No, they are designed to tell us to watch out. They tell us to avoid those things that are producing the odors. In that regard, nature is being kind enough to give us a heads up.
So which of nature’s scents are your favorites? Perhaps you can enjoy them more with an essential oil home diffuser.