I know you love perfume, or you wouldn't be reading this blog. But is there anything, well, a little off kilter that you love to smell? A smell fetish?
For instance, I adore the smell of gasoline. As a kid I would sit in the backseat of the sweltering Ford Falcon station wagon at the gas station and drink in the fumes. Divine. When I was in my teens, I admitted my fascination with the smell of gasoline to my aunt, and she fetched her purse. Inside was a handkerchief dipped in crude oil, all sealed in a plastic baggie. "I can't get enough of it," she said, a little embarrassed.
Today I spent an hour at the vintage clothing store where I used to work. Between trying on crystal necklaces and 1950s cocktail dresses, I talked to Liz, the owner, about smell fetishes. "Oh, I love gasoline, too," she said. "And the smell of a garage — the rubber, oil, metal, all of it. I love that smell. And parking garages! I love the smell of parking garages."
Anna, a burlesque dancer, stopped by to show her newly dyed black hair and look at some hats. Her smell fetishes? Her answer was quick and sure: "Matches and gasoline. And rose petals."
"But rose petals smell good!" I said. "That doesn't count as a fetish."
"Dead rose petals," she said.
"I like the smell of matches, too," Joanne said. Joanne had just come in to work the afternoon shift. As always, she'd dressed in something diaphanous with 1930s sandals, large, dangling earrings resembling Saturn in chains, and Guerlain Jicky. "I also like the smell of a freshly opened package of soap. It smells so good I want to lick it. When I do, it tastes good. Then I lick it again and it's horrible."
Another customer confessed to loving the smell of dryer sheets. I remembered a coworker who said as a girl she used to stalk Laundromats for the smell of hot fabric. We all agreed we like body odor, but only on someone in whom we have a carnal interest.
I stopped by the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few things for dinner. "What are your plans tonight?" the cashier, a professorial type, asked.
"I'm going to make dinner — " cabbage, mustard, and sausage casserole, by the way, from the new Tamasin Day-Lewis cookbook, really good "— and write something about smell fetishes. Anything in particular you like to smell?"
He put a Savoy cabbage in my bag. The question didn't faze him at all. "The smell of pitch. I love the smell of pinyon pine pitch. And wild sage just after it rains." He loaded in a jar of mustard and some sausage. "You know what my wife really loves? The smell of a two-stroke engine. It's an aphrodisiac for her."
What about you? Do you have a smell fetish? (Baby's head and kitty fur don't count, since they're universally recognized as heavenly smells.)
Note: top image is we don't see many strangers since they put in that interstate by iboy_daniel at flickr; some rights reserved.
What a great topic!
I like the smell of asphalt, particularly schoolyards, after it has rained and it is evaporating. Kind of a rare one.
I love the smell of damp cement, dirt, metal rebar and wood on construction sites.
Not so much gas and oil on their own, but auto repair shops and the men in them. Although I do like a whiff of gas now and again.
Oh yes, distant skunk! The smell of wet cement is especially delicious when it hasn’t rained for a while, then rains, so the wet is a good, dirty wet smell.
Oh, I love the smell of wood from construction or a wood shop too!
Go get a bottle of Bois Farine–you’ll be glad you did!
Thanks for the tip!
I’ll back up your opinion on that, Angela!
This is great! The wood thing is wonderful. I lived next to a lumberyard when I was a kid. Will look for Bois Farine.
I was thinking about the same thing when reading Angela’s introduction: asphalt and a sudden summer rain! So that must be a more common smell fetish than I thought… or is that a common denominator for perfume addicts?
I think that’s a stellar idea for a new perfume.
Didn’t MAC have some summer perfume in 2009 that was supposed to have some asphalt accord?
Right–asphalt and violets, or something like that.
Neil Morris makes one called City Rain that is supposed to have this smell.
Yes, it was Asphalt Flower. I still have a half a roll-on bottle left. It’s quite nice, and it does smell of asphalt and violets.
Tama, I love that asphalt smell and wouldn’t have thought of it. And yes, distant skunk!
the smeel of wet asphalt – instant memories of endless night driving along Italian highways..This is how Bulgari’s Black smelled to me at first whiff! ahhh!
What a marvelous image!
I also like the smell of petrol stations! And paint that is still drying. In fact I like both so much that I usually wonder if the fumes are making me high!
The smell, not of any old books – (sometimes they just smell like decay) but of some of my childhood illustrated Enid Blytons. The combination of pictures (including the little star glinting under the leaves) and the familiar/unfamiliar smell is transporting. (dont know if that counts).
Here is a truly weird one: as a child I liked to breathe on my hand and then smell that area of the skin. I think it was a habit until I was about 12. Doesn’t do anything for me now, I promise!
I love it that your book smell fetish is so specific! And now, of course, I’ll be breathing on my hand all day to see what I smell…
At present mine just smells like the chocolate I ate 10 minutes ago. Not appealing, but not particularly gross either.
…and now I’m hungry, too.
Oh my gosh, when I was a kid I was obsessed with the smells of my various books! This is awful, but I even went so far as to chop up one that smelled particularly nasty.
It must have really stunk!
Nice to meet another book sniffer! I’m more inclined to sniff the binding glue than the pages, but it’s all of a piece. That was the real attraction of Smell Bent’s One for me, the idea that I might smell like one of my favorite books. Put on with a little of the Brussels Sprouted and I (however briefly) smell like my old Penguin Classics from my last year of middle school AP English. The truly sad thing though…they don’t use that faintly minty-smelling glue anymore!
Ooh, this is a good topic!
A tiny whiff of skunk smells really good — any more than that, not so much.
Snuffed candle is heavenly.
Oh yes, snuffed candle! That’s a really good one.
Make that a huge blast of skunk, and I’m in. I think I’m anosmic to the part that bothers other people!
If you live in skunk country, you’re lucky!
We do have a neighborhood skunk, and I’m always pleased when he pops by.
My middle child (he’s 12) has enjoyed a whiff of skunk for several years now.
Dee, that’s interesting. I do enjoy the slightest whiff of skunk, but several times I’ve woken at 3:00 in the morning and it seems like one has sprayed right underneath my window. Practically makes my eyes burn to the point I want to hop in the shower. Too much is too much!
Egad, try having a Dalmation who can’t get it through their dog head that that big fluffy black and white “cat” is not HER fluffy black and white cat so stay the heck away!! The first time this case of mistaken identity happened the dog came running inside with something wet dripping off her chest —off course I put my fingers in it to see what it was —-smelled strongly of citrus! like the oily juice from the rind of 20 lemons—but as the liquid ‘gases off’ into the surrounding airspace—that’s when the heavy sulfurous musk suddenly hits you over the head like a 10lb cast iron skillet. I’ve bathed too many stupid dogs over the years , so y’all can keep your skunk smells.
That’s fascinating! I think that’s the first time I’ve heard about the drippy citrus part of the smell.
It was sort of amazing really…..it was like putting your fingers in straight , pungent, lemon oil….I couldn’t imagine what it was….for about 15-20 seconds….then it was too late; my fingers were funky smelling for days. And that’s after scrubbing the dog for 20 minutes with baking soda, palmolive dish liquid and peroxide….
Yep, that would cure me from ever wanting to get even a whiff of that ever again.
Very interesting… I guess I’d have to experience it to know if that would change things for me.
Joe, there’s one in my ‘hood who seems to spray either on our back porch, or close by, because every few weeks—usually in the evening—skunk wafts through our house from the direction of the back yard. I’ve never been actually sprayed, or experienced the burning eye effects, so I can’t say I’d still love the aroma under those circumstances.
I saw, on Facebook, one of the natural perfumers (can’t remember who) is experimenting with skunk oil… and I’m thrilled!
I’d have to agree with the matches and gasoline too. But, I also like the smell of mud – yep wet, thick and raw mud.
My only explanation is that my kids and DH constantly drag into the house and I have to clean it out of their clothes and shoes daily. Please don’t tell them, because I love to complain about it to them. Shhhh..just our secret, right?
And I love the smell of burning leaves but I don’t think that qualifies as an “off kilter” scent…at least to me, it isn’t.
IMO, the smell of burning leaves or wood smoke on a chilly fall day is as good as it gets.
Well it must be common enough to base a perfume on – as ‘I hate perfume’ did!
Black March, right? Or I think they actually have one called Burning Leaves or something like that?
Yip, there’s one called burning leaves. I haven’t smelled it, but saw it listed on the Indie perfume site. Many seem to like it…
I can imagine liking the smell of mud, but loving it is something else. There’s a lot of mud in my backyard now, and I’m going out soon to give it a sniff! (Your secret is safe with us, by the way.)
Mud was my thought, too – the kind with dead wet leaves in it. It’s one of the best smells of fall. Not that I would have brought it up before this thread!
Let me tell you, these comments are opening up a whole new world of smells for me!
Me too! I actually kinda like gasoline too – who knew so many people dug the smell of gasoline?
the smell of mud? then buy tons of Dead Sea mud based products from Ahava or funny Italian brands that sell 400 mll and bigger cans of sure cure for celullite
Fall leaves in mud it great, but it’s even better when it’s just cold enough (or windy enough) to mostly freeze the mud. You know the state I’m sure, where it’s almost solid again, but without turning back into…well, dirt? Usually you only get that once or twice a year, and it’s even better if you have snow in the air and pine trees or a good, whiffy cedar mulch somewhere not too far away!
I do know that partially frozen mud state! I never would have thought of it, though. Thanks!
Mud! Love mud, too! This is a great topic.
I don’t love “mud” so much as the smell of potting soil and that humid smell of greenhouses. I’ve often thought I would LOVE to work in a plant nursery.
That is a wonderful smell, too, Joe! The mud that I love is the kind in the tropical forests I used to hike through.
Demeter makes one called Earthworm that is nice and muddy loamy smelling. It’s nice under a floral or green scent.
Maybe it’s similar to the “worm smell” referenced by AnnS below.
I love the smell of mud too, but swamp mud. If there was a swamp accord complete with that water, algae, and green growing things I’d be set.
The smell of forest after a storm.
Boardwalk on a sunny day. That smell of heated tar over sand and salt .
As others have said the smell of a sudden summer shower on concrete or asphalt.
Matches, freshly blown out candles, burning paper. I don’t like the smell of gas stations, but the faint whiff of gas in the air is nice.
New cardboard is nice and old books.
Hate the smell of gasoline, but I associate it with having to mow the lawn
Ditto sheets in elementary school smelled great – the entire class deeply inhaling in unison.
Do they still manufacture that ink?
Just like that scene in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”
I never did see that movie…
Oh my gosh, I loved ditto sheets, too. And paste. The paste was a good smell, though, not really a fetish smell.
Apres l’Ondee reminds me of paste – might be why I like it.
I need to smell it again and think of paste.
I had forgotten about those ditto sheets! Great smell.
Ditto Sheets… WOW…I thought those smelled amazing!!!
Ditto sheets! Thanks for that memory. I had forgotten how good they smelled.
I could smell it the moment I read the original comment. Yum!
Also library paste – I remember that from early elementary school (mid-50s – ow). The jars with the brush in the middle of the lid….that sweet/chalky smell…and there was always some kid who would eat the stuff, then get sick all over the floor…and the janitor would come in and pour sawdust on the vomit (that was NOT a good smell, btw)…
I recall that putrid sawdust/vomit neutralizer smell clear as a bell. Yeck.
I used to love those fresh ditto sheets! And I loved the purple ink!
Cheap hotel soap. Perfumes that claim to smell of plain white soap never get it right. Perhaps it reminds me of my more carefree roadtrippin’ days, when that little sliver of Jergens seemed like the height of luxury after a night sleeping in the car and freshening up with BBW spray afterward.
A story about Dioressence has it that the perfumer was trying to figure out how to build the fragrance around ambergris, when he went to the washroom to wash his hands. The smell of the soap mixed with the ambergris was his inspiration! It sounds like your roadtrips would be good inspiration, too.
I don’t even know what exactly I’d call it – cold sweat smell? It began when I was a child and my Dad would go outside in the winter to move log piles, bring in wood for our fireplace or woodburner, do some snow plowing or what-have-you labor in the very cold winter. He’d come in with this crazy wonderful smell of fresh cold air, snow, wood, or gas from snow blowing, and a healthy dose of manly sweat that permeated his heavy wool “hard work” winter coat. I just love the combination of all those smells wrapped up in this one single aroma that is entirely comforting as it is curious. It embodies every emotion & concept of manliness that you can possiblly imagine from my awareness of “manly” self sacrifice my Dad put out every time he’d go outside to do something that was probably rather unpleasant for us in the wintertime. And also of the curiousity I got from noticing how that weird raw sweaty smell of exertion changed in the cold. There is something unusual about how very cold air changes the smell of sweat into something wonderful. I have since smelled that smell on two men I love and lust very much, and my reaction to that smell never changes. I love it.
I also loved the smell of gas that would drift into the back of our old station wagon when we’d get a fill up. My older sister and I would hang out in the back of the wagon on the side of the tank and just breathe in those fumes! I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love the smell of gasoline fumes.
Cold sweat versus warm sweat–that’s a distinction I’d never thought of, but now I will definitely pay attention! You painted such a terrific scent portrait.
I understand the cold sweat smell – it’s the way we always smelled as children when we would come inside after playing outside in the snow. I think it’s a thing maybe only people who have grown up in the “country” can smell.
Good point – maybe it’s a cold weather climate thing too. It’s never ceased to amaze me how that smell of snow & cold air clings to people after they’ve come inside.
I dunno, every time I’v mentioned to a passenger that I like the smell of the petrol station, I’v received an eeeeewwwwww response. To many it just seems like a dirt and pollution smell.
I guess this should fit under another topic, but there are some smells that seem universally loved, that I don’t like very much. For instance, I’m not crazy about the smell of sea air. Though I do like the fact that after being exposed to it for a period the sweet smell of inland grass is so much more noticeable!
I know a few people, too, who don’t get the beauty of the smell of gasoline. But, really, you don’t like sea air?
Really bizarre, but I don’t. Well, I get used to it after a while, and its only some moments that it makes me think of putrid rotting seaweed…
Interestingly, I do like salty ambergris smelling perfumes like Balmain’s ambre gris (though it disappears too fast on me) and elixir de Merveille.
I can see the smell of rotting seaweed getting to be a bit much.
See below: That “rotting seaweed” and stagnant marsh grass smell is something I treasure. I’ve be a sea-side freak all my life though… nowhere I’d rather be.
Great picture Angela!
Great post as usual, Angela! Ok, here’s a really weird one…cow or horse manure! Not when you’re up close and personal with it, but riding in a car with the windows down and catching a whiff from a pasture? Love it! Lots of wonderful childhood memories with this…summer road trips through the country, sunshine and breeze on my face. Maybe not as weird, but certainly out of step with our cultural obsession with deodorizing our natural smell into oblivion…I love sweat! Not haven’t-bathed-in-a-week sweat, mind you, just that little bit of funk a guy has if he’s clean but doesn’t use deodorant…to me it’s the sexiest thing ever. (Maybe TMI, but my boyfriend never uses deodorant and I’m so happy he doesn’t!)
That’s true! The stalls in the animal barns at the state fair smell that way, too, and it’s a nice part of the whole ambiance. I’m not wild about the smell of chicken manure, though.
I totally get the cow/horse manure thing. I really love the smell of a horse barn in general, and the smell of the horse him/herself, their skin and hair, their muzzles.
Animal muzzles in general are sweet places, I think!
Kiki: I would never say I loved that smell, but I am so familiar with it b/c of all the farm fields in Pennsylvania, that it seems very “homey” to me. A very brief and funny story: my husband who grew up his whole life in the city (Portland OR), was visiting me one spring in Pennsylvania. We were driving around on some old country roads on a way to visiting my sister who lives near Lancaster. Suddenly he lurches forward like he is going to puke and he says in the most horrified and uncomfortable way: “What is that smell?!?” Now I am thinking that something truly awful just happened to the car or whatever, until I finally realized that he’d never ever smelled the glory of manure in the field. I was like, honey, that’s just cow manure. I laughed so hard I almost cried while he sat there suffering for the next 20 minutes. He was like, oh god, what have I got myself into. Poor man, he’ll never forgive me from taking him away from Portland.
Ah…an opportunity to confess my love of the smells of skunk, cow manure and rabbit hutches. Basically, the everyday scents of growing up in a farming community. Oh, and wood varnish. I feel like some weird psychopath admitting these to the average person but am so glad perfumisti understand!
You’re not weird at all! There’s a sweetness to wood varnish, isn’t there? I seem to recall some sort of sweetness in with the solvents. I can imagine it smelling good.
Angela, I think the coco review is by you, and you compare coco to a very richly varnished wooden table!
You’re right, darn it! I was thinking of the smell of wood and orange oil polish, but it’s kind of the same idea.
My mom compared the smell of Andy Tauer’s Incense Extreme to crystal varnishes, and I agree. That scent reminds me of her painting studio.
That’s a nice smell, and a nice memory to have.
I am very sensitive to smells, so almost everything smells bad to me (a holdover from my daily migraine days). Strangely, I am also a smoker, and am not supposed to have a sensitive sniffer. Since I do smoke, I’m not sure that this counts, but I love the smell of cigarette smoke in the winter (I only smoke outside of course, I gots a kitty). And if that cigarette smoke in the bitter cold air should happen to mix with car exhaust fumes, that’s ok too. This is another probably common one: vanilla scented pipe tobacco. There was a store in the mall in the town where I grew up that my grandfather would go to buy his pipe tobacco, and I always insisted on going with him. It smelled amazing!
Car exhaust plus icy air plus cigarette smoke! I’m not sure I’ve smelled that combo, but it sounds very evocative. I, too, love the smell of scented pipe tobacco. I’ve even thought about buying a pouch of it not to smoke, but to put in my coat closet.
According to Luca Turin, smokers actually have a *more* sensitive sense of smell, though I can’t remember the scientific explanation for it.
For smokers, Turin indicates that because some receptors in the nose are used by the inhalation of smoke, that a scent actually “vibrates” or sticks around in the nose longer, letting the smell-er get a more distinct feel for it, to detect the nuances. He even indicated that…ok here is the quote, on page 263 of Burr’s the Emperor of Scent:
“In her presentation…one of the Indian scientists…presents some surprising data. Her clinical trials, she report with evident frustration, have shown that smokers actually smell better than nonsmokers. This is illogical.
Turin pipes up from the back in his lone chair: ‘Not at all.’ Pleasantly. They all look at him now. ‘Half the perfumers I’ve met have been smokers, and there’s actually a good reason smoking would help people smell better…The carbon monoxide in the cigarettes totally blocks the enzyme cytochrome P450, the enzyme in the nose that breaks things down. Block the enzyme with smoke, and you don’t break down smell molecules, so they hang out in the nose longer than normal, and you smell better.’ He shrugs.”
Thanks for the quote!
I don’t smoke, but I love the smell of a freshly lit cigarette. Odd, huh?
I love the smell of a lit pipe.
I don’t smoke, but have been considering getting some pipe tobacco and burning it around the house, like incense.
I like the tobacco unsmoked, too, and have thought of using it like sachets.
Cigar smoke & shotgun powder smoke! Immediate dad smell and outdoorsy and indoors civilized and uncivilized at the same time! I was in the uk for a while and I think it was one night when I was walking home past some men smoking cigars and I got a whiff of cigar smoke and I think I actually decided then to come back to the states! Cigars – home!
Gasoline is just yummy..mmmm!!
Apart from that, ever since childhood I have loved the smell of knees. I have sniffed my own knees most of course, but I have found that most of the people around me, who have allowed me to crawl around and sniff theirs, also have this salty, malty, furry,bready scent…lovely! I haven’t yet found any other part of the body that smells like this.
I wonder what it is about knees? Maybe the warmth behind them brews up some good odors. If I didn’t have tights on, I’d sniff my knee right now.
hhhmmmm…..my knees smell like fabric softener from my leggings… anyone else sniffing their knees right now?
yes, but mine smells of my mango body butter so it was a disappointment. Ideally – for the hard-core knee-snuffer, that is – the knee should be naked, not too clean, without other confusing scents,damp and warm…;)
O.K., before my bath tonight I’ll do a few stretches to limber up, then smell my knees.
Yip! And the description is exact – salty, malty, bready – kind of a yeast smell maybe? And no, I dont have any fungus growing behind them – I checked!
Sunshine – I know that smell EXACTLY! I haven’t smelled it much on other people only because …well I guess I haven’t asked if I could smell their knees! But a bent knee, the fleshy part (inside left on the right knee, reverse on the left) to the inside of the patella….smells just like you described!
Okay, here’s a strange one – fiberglass and epoxy. My dad used to build custom canoes and paddles, and I love that clean, industrial, chemical smell. Add in the scent of a high-powered space heater in cold weather and it’s just perfect.
The high-powered heater adds just the perfect note! You’ve created a masterful scent picture.
I thought I was the only one who likes a good solid whiff of gasoline! Guess I should’ve known better. The smell of matches and snuffed candles, I get it…….the best part of 4th of July fireworks? yep, all those fumes and smoke that’s probably loaded with carcinogens! Set me downwind of the fireworks! I haven’t seen one in about 30 years, but as a kid I remember the scent when you first took one of those plastic shower caps out of the packaging and brand new shower curtain liners : plastic & vanilla…do they even make shower caps now? There was always a drawer FULL of them at my gramma’s house. Latex paint….I paint a room and the CEO starts squawking about opening all the windows… and I’m standing there “snnnuuffffffff…ahhhh” . Oh….a new box of crayons smells pretty darn good too.
I like that smell of crayons that just melted on the heater – you know – that smell of classrooms in winter time. There was always some fool who’d put a crayon on the heater by accident or on purpose.
Nice and waxy-oily smelling.
Some fool. Yes. (raises hand) I remember it must have been second grade… the radiator must have been damn hot, because that red crayon really melted away FAST… like butter on a sizzling frying pan.
A memory you’ll never forget. Do you remember the smell?
To be honest, I don’t.
Daisy, you mentioned a load of great smells! The fireworks smell reminds me of the smell of gunpowder from a freshly shot rifle, and that’s a good smell, too. And, yes, the plastic shower liner straight from the bag! And crayons! All so good.
Mmmmmm crayons! I forgot about that one too! And I adored gasoline as a kid, but it doesn’t smell as good to me know as it did then.
I think there must be more safety features on gas pumps now. I feel like I barely smell what I used to.
That’s because the smell changed when they took out the lead! No lie–gasoline was re-formulated! I loved the old gas smell. Now, not so much.
Oh no! Well, that explains it, then. Damn.
Oooh! I’m glad to see you like latex paint too. I added that in my entry before reading any of these. And yes, that smell of a vinyl shower curtain or liner when you unfold it… love that!
Totally agree with latex paint and Crayola crayons! Yummmm!
Latex paint, railroad ties (which I never get to smell anymore), new sneakers and new duck boots–a bunch of oddball man-made smells.
I love the smell of old creosote telephone poles!
Must be that oily tar they use on them!
Lots of good, oily, asphalty smells there.
The loamy,musky smell of horse sweat.
I run a forest horse trail every day and when I run past them , their scent is delicious. It reminds me were all alive out here.
I also am addicted to the smell of the trail, the moss, the mushrooms ,evergreens, the decaying leaves in the rain soaked earth.. Ahhh my kind of heaven.
The smell of pinto beans cooking in my house, it leaves a wonderful aroma.They are not treated with anything, just boiling.
It’s a “mexi” smell, I love it! ha.
And the smell of cigarettes. I don’t smoke and I can’t stand it in large doses permeated in cars or walls of closed up places but when in conversation with somebody on a cold night outside and the smell lingers past me, I dig it.
It seems sexy and forbidden.
Gosh, cooking bean smell! I hadn’t even thought of that! (I wonder if anyone likes the smell of braising cabbage? I had plenty of that in the house last night.)
Yes, I do like the smell of cooked cabbage. It is homey, comforting, and I had no idea it was a “bad” smell until some friends came over for dinner when I was a little girl and complained about the stink. All I can say is, add some kielbasa and you’ve got yourself a square meal.
Chop up the kielbasa, layer it with the shredded cabbage and some mustard, braise for a couple of hours, and it’s a meal fit for a queen.
Yeah, I used to smoke, love to smoke, don’t any more, but love the smell of fresh smoke. Not in clothes or cars or on breath, but fresh – lovely.
Angela-This is a great subject to touch on. Back when I was in grade school, I used to love to smell these certain magic markers, pencil shavings and my third grade teacher wore some kind of perfume that smelt like Jergens Original lotion with that wonderful cherry/almond scent that fades into that iconic smell. I wish I knew what she had wore. Since I didn’t think to ask, I use the Jergens Original.
One of the customers at the vintage clothing smell mentioned markers, too, and not just the fruity ones (markers, that is.)
Oh yes. My late Aunt’s feet used to smell like apple cider and I loved that smell. I am amongst my NST people so I felt comfortable saying that. Anywhere else, probably not.
I can imagine just what you describe!
Is it possible that your late aunt put ceder in her sock drawers or used ceder shoe trees?
I love the smell of the first day in which the summer temp. dropped to autumn and suddenly the entire county(upstate NY) smelled like a very crisp apple. Not even apple pie smells so appley.
That sounds like such a nice smell!
Dilana- I know what you mean. I don’t beleive that she used cedar, but the smell was comparable to apples when they fall on the ground and have that soft mushy smell. I was a child at the time, but I think if she were alive today I would still enjoy it.
Dolly2 your so cute!
I know what you mean, say what you want here, my dear.
I’m glad people feel that way.
Tamara- such a sweetie! I’m an “out with it” kind of gal and a lot of people wouldn’t understand where I am coming from. Those people I could care less about.
I thought of another one that I know others of you share, though you may not admit it… wet dog. Clean is good, muddy is good – as long as they haven’t actually rolled in a dead animal I’ll bury my nose in.
I didn’t used to like the smell of wet dog, but now I like it. My dog doesn’t smell very “doggy” except when he’s been playing with other dogs, but it’s a good smell.
Another vote for paint, also fireworks and new carpets.
When I was small I used to sniff knots I would make in curtain tie backs in our mobile caravan (those plaited silken cord things). I would sniff and sniff these cord knots, treating them like a comforter, till they were grubby – and impregnated with my own smell, presumably – but still I would sniff and I wouldn’t let my mother wash the cords the knots were on, so they got more and more rank. I grew out of the habit eventually, I am pleased to say, and have no interest whatsoever in knots today.
I love that story! It’s almost like you were in love with a knot. A very special knot.
I love the smell of chlorine. I love to walk by a swimming pool or mall fountain and get a whiff of bleach.
Swimming pool chlorine on a warm night is such an evocative smell.
I’m rather fond of pool chlorine myself.
So let me get this straight, a smell you love only counts as a fetish if it’s not meant to smell good? Or to smell good to a majority of people? Isn’t fetishism about deriving sexual pleasure from specific objects, possibly in a specific context? Or ascribing supernatural properties to objects?
Going through everybody’s answers, a lot are actually present in small quantities in perfumes. Rose oxide, for instance, is quite gasoline-y: smell vintage Rive Gauche or Calandre and you’ll see what I mean. It’s probably also part of the gasoline note in CdG’s infamous Garage. All sorts of manure-like smells are in narcissus, vanilla (not vanillin) and jasmine.
Matches? You can get the effect with sulfurous materials like cassis bud.
And so forth.
I’d say smell fetishism — minus the literal sexual component, more as a general libidinal investment, i.e. focusing the same type of energy we could pour into love and various pleasures — is a characteristic of perfume lovers in general!
Well, I guess I shouldn’t be calling these “smell fetishes”, but it does sound more exciting than “smells that aren’t supposed to be good that, in fact, you like quite a lot.”
It’s so interesting what you say about supposedly icky smells being present in fragrances we love. Not many people would carry around a vial of civet for the pleasure of smelling it by itself, but what fabulous things it does for Joy.
I’m also a little confused about ‘fetish’. But its interesting because even though no sexual pleasure is derived from certain smells, the idiosyncrasy of some of them, plus the kind of intimacy the sense of smell involves, seems to introduce a kind of strange uneasiness. As if there were some fundamental perversion about liking the smell of arb object x.
You describe it well.
Speaking of a vial of civet — I just received 4ml of Firmenich Civet CNC, and let me tell you… just unscrewing the cap on that baby was a life-changing experience. I really love the way animalic bases change the character of a scent and push it to the borderline between beautiful and ghastly.
I’m thinking of making a very light dilution of this civet in perfumer’s alcohol and seeing how it performs when layered under some other scents.
Anyone who wants a drop or two of this civet compound, I’m happy to send off a bit.
Have cats been following you down the street?
Shudder…Only “to” the borderline between beautiful and ghastly?
That vial would probably be “well beyond” to my nose, being pathologically civet-averse (for the most part, anyway).
I agree with so, so many of these! The only one I can think to add that I didn’t see in my quick skim of the comments is… that smell of burning dust when you turn the heat on for the first time in the fall. By association, it’s such a cozy smell, one that carries with it all the best parts of fall/winter: fires, sweaters, curling up with a good book and a beverage of choice, holidays, family (if you have a good one, as I do).
Oh yes, the newly-turned on furnace smell! That’s always a kind of terrifying smell to me. I wait for the furnace to blow up or something, but sure enough, year after year, it chugs to life and a few minutes later that smell is gone and the cat is in front of the heater vent.
Too funny! I almost put that burning dust smell on my list too! I like a whiff of that when the furnace comes on after a hiatus of weeks.
Another one that my daughter totally thinks I’m crazy for having to sniff, but the smell of burning hair….it’s very weird, and a little scary but I’ve singed the hairs on my forearm at the stove before and just had to sniff my arm until the smell was gone.
Although I would never want to see/sniff a burnt hair note in a perfume….it’s just the strange feeling burnt hair evokes….like you’ve just narrowly escaped death or something. Like “whew, glad I didn’t just catch myself on fire!”
Burning hair is a horrible smell! But so distinctive.
it is horrible! But something about it puts me on alert instantly….not in a nice way. There’s plenty of distinctive and nice smells around but there are certain distinctive smells that evoke an immediate response that aren’t “pleasant” . This is one for me….almost makes me shiver.
I can imagine that!
I like that smell when the heater is first fired up too (I just have a natural gas unit in the corner of my room, not a furnace).
And I was ashamed to think of burning hair… it is such a nasty smell, but when I’m being careless, lighting a bunch of candles and singe the hair on my knuckles… YOWZA… I wrinkle up my nose but sort of enjoy the experience of smelling that. We are weird.
I LOVE that burning dust smell! Was coming to add it at the bottom.
I quit smoking a few years ago, but the smell of a freshly lit ciagrette still makes me salivate. Also love the smell of a blown-out match with a bit of a cherry still burning.
When I was 18 I worked at a bank and I remember when the guys from a local machine shop would come in to cash their checks – which they usually kept folded up in a leather wallet and in their jeans pockets – and I, after they left, I would hold the checks up against my nose and just inhale the gas, oil, & whatever mixture. My manager had a good sense of humor but she still thought I was crazy!
Elmer’s glue is a comforting smell to me though I don’t know why because I hated school. I did enjoy getting school supplies though. (My anticipations were alway too high. :P)
My most favorite smell is chlorine. I hate getting into or being seen in a swimsuit but swimming itself has always been the most satisfying and relaxing excersize for me.
Oh, one more thing. I just saw apple vinegar mentioned but my favorite is malt vinegar, especially when just poured over steaming hot fries.
All such great smells! A good list. Cash smells good, too.
Alright , I’ll say it- the smell of weed. Yup.
Talking about good ol’ Mary Jane.
Up here in Wa.we have the best stuff, so crystallized and stinky, it has a dank, yummy smell. And when it’s being smoked , it matters how -to my nose, the best way it smells is in a joint.
Bongs and pipes take away the green smell and make it more musty and rank.
It’s OK if no-one comments me (cricket-cricket) my intention wasn’t to make anybody uncomfortable.
HA. How’s that for fetish Angela?
Oh yes, I know the kind you’re talking about, Tamara. I remember several large bags full of it falling out of my co-worker’s backpack one time as he sat down at the cubbie next to me. I thought “Wow, it smells like weed, but like really REALLY good weed!” lol I quickly informed him of what had happened, he looked down with a priceless shocked look on his face and quickly scooped up and zipped everything back in. And yes, I’m the one who can’t even ingest the stuff because of what it does to my state of mind. But I still appreciate the smell.
YES LaMaroc, when it’s the good stuff, it’s a wonderful smell! teehee
So! are you and your co-worker now on cosy terms? Is he the generous type? Go on spit it out, LOL!
I agree, it has a lovely smell…
Lol! Oh no, I have no idea where he is now. This was when I lived in Seattle. I’m back in the Midwest now. *sigh*
Hey, I know people agree with you, since there are a few perfumes that have marijuana as a note!
I totally agree! The smell of good, fresh bud is lovely and a joint is the only way to go! Of course, my scent memory on this is some years old but I believe my exposure was sufficient to create an accurate memory!
You guys are awfully naughty…
I’ve… never smelled it. No, seriously – not even in college. It was a drinkin’ town, not a weed town.
Mals~ my town is both! From a aromatic standpoint, it is a very strong smell, if you like hay and tobacco ,plant-like scents you would like it maybe.
PG Coze famously has a weed note, which really complements the patchouli very nicely. It’s a super-cozy perfume – mmmm!
NozKoz, really? I love Coze, I’ll have to smell it again with herb in mind.
I once confused the smell of pot with skunk.
Adela it IS rather skunky huh? haha!
Diesel fuel, which brings back the smell of the engine on the motorboat that took us water-skiing when I was a child – that’s pure summer to me. And horse stables – I love that scent! Ditto sheets too. What a delightful post on a cold, windy Monday – thanks!
All this talk of ditto sheets really has me wanting to smell them again!
Somebody mentioned pencil shavings (after sharpening those #2’s in school): I’m wearing the new version of Jolie Madame today, and I usually get a whiff of the pencil shavings a few minutes after spraying.
Pencil shavings with a little of the pencil lead smell is the best.
Most of mine have already been mentioned….wet dog, first rain on newly laid asphalt, chlorine…but I have a couple more to add.
First is the smell of a feed store. I don’t know that I can pick out a particular ‘note’, but the general ambiance is so perfect….sun rays heating barrels of dusty grain, wood floors with a light covering of saw and grain dust, customers in their work clothes smelling of barnyard and machine oil and chewing tobacco, breezes coming in from the open loading docks with a faint scent of alfalfa.
Second is the smell of a field of spearmint on a hot humid night. As teenagers, looking for some ‘alone time’ with our dates, we used to drive out to the spearmint fields on summer nights and ‘cuddle’ among the plants. Every move you’d make that would brush the leaves – often still warm from the day’s sun – would release the scent. That scent was so intense it’s hard to compare to any other experience of mint I’ve ever had.
Both of those experiences should be made into perfumes, I think. They both sound terrific.
Oh my God, this is perfect!
For you, experience, for me, an erotic fantasy in the making. Actually, I had one about lavender, same thing.
You guys, hiding out in the scented fields! Nice memories, I bet.
Oh, feed store! That’s a great one!
My favorite smell in the world is brewery. I have clear memories of the Olympia brewery in WA and one in Milwaukee. It’s a savory, grainy smell that I’m unable to describe better. I once smelled a cream of tomato soup that also had a similar scent. Heavenly. If anyone knows the chemical or a perfume with this scent please share!
I believe you’re talking about hops. Stop by a microbrewery and give a sniff–it’s all warm, hoppy, and slightly alcoholic.
2nd breweries! Esp. the smell when you are just less than a mile away and can smell the barley/hops/whatever!
Coffee roasters give off a good smell, too, come to think of it.
Gosh, Angela, now this makes me think of another smell, but a good one: when my sister and I first moved to PDX we lived in Tigard very near the Stash Tea factory. You could smell the aroma of anise drifting across the way any time they were blending up their one anise tea. It was an amazing smell to get anise out of thin air!
Ah, the Oly Brewery. “It’s the water … and a lot more.”
That brings back good memories. When I was in high school several classmates and I were making a documentary film about the state legislature We managed to convince our teacher that we should stop by the brewery on the way home and take the tour. Of course, now any teacher who did that would be instantly fired, but somehow we all managed to become productive citizens. That brewery smell is wonderful (and I don’t even like beer)!
The good old days…
I don’t care much for beer, either, but enjoy the smell of a brewery very much. I think it has something in common with wet leaves. And bread, but that’s not really surprising.
Reading Joe’s comment (waaay downthread) about driving near garlic fields reminded me of driving through eastern Washington past all the hop fields. Those fields had such a distinctive smell! Angela, this must have been back in the 70’s. Do you know if those hop fields near Yakima still exist?
Oh yes, they’re still there!
Here’s a weird one.
The smell that is left on your hands after using a vitamin C serum in the morning.
Smells like pickled skin.
Oh gosh, good one!
I love the smell of WD40 especially after it has dissipated a little… and the smell of a dairy barn
We have lots of oil and manure lovers here!
I love petrol too, and that was cute about your Aunty
umm I absolutley adore the smell of chocolate and vanilla (but that doesn’t count)
but gosh not paint, I’ve just had my bedroom decorated and it gave me a headache the first couple of days, my parents say they can still smell but I can’t. but paint smells kinda nice in the pot.
oh I just thought of one, glue. but I often don’t smell it because think the wrong idea :/ plus even a seconds sniff makes your head funny
that new leather smell you get on leather keyrings aswell. but that smells nice so that probly doesn’t count. hair dye smells nice from a distance but up close is rotten, I did work experience at a hairdressers at school and when ever they got the dye out I’d linger there and absorb the heavenly smell. bleach is another thing that smells nice from a distance, or any house cleaning product. wood polish.
a candle after it’s burning and then you put it out, thats smells so nice it doesn’t count either !
B.O only smells the faintest bit nice not when someones been out in the rain doing sport, I hate it when I’ve been jogging (on the very rare occasions I do) and smell just of body heat and raging breath. I think it’s more when you’ve got four layers of clothes on in an already warm house and you take them off and smell like mildly warm B.O, I think that’s a nice wat of putting it :L
vinegar smells sort of nice, but not very. and to LaMaroc, I enjoy swimming but not the smell of chlorine walking by the side of the swimming pool builiding when the vents are on pumping some gas out (maybe chlorine) smells nice, it’s warm air/gas aswell, but not chlorine in the pool, and especially not on skin.
that stuff that goes in the washing machine, conditioner?? my mum once got a really really nice smelling one and we were going to ASDA and I hadn’t put perfume on that day so I dabbed some of that on LOL it made my wrist itchy and red though it is concentrated after all.
umm but I think petrol is my favourite.
I’ve got another one, yeast.
or the yeast in Guiness.
You don’t think it’s the hops?
Hops are very bitter and almost citrusy smelling – I toured the Anchor Brewing Co. in SF and they let us sniff the hops room. That was a powerful sharp smell. My guess is the brewery smells people mention are from malt or yeast or barley.
I defer to you. I’m not much of a beer drinker.
Idk what are hops ?
and I don’t drink beer btw.
Hops are a vining plant, and the leaves are used in beer. I don’t know much about it, though, really, except that they have a distinctive smell.
OH and when you got a new excercise book at school, the pages kind of smelled like crab meat HAA but it was nice I used to bury my face into the books.
I’d never made that association before!
and I thought of another, flreshly laid tarmac on roads
well I don’t really think of them they just come to me.
Terrific! I love your commentary and the way you assembled it all together. I was with you every step of the way.
aww thankyou Angela
and about the glue, I meant people get the wrong idea. missed people out. eurgh technology.
Owen – yes, the hot air mist of chlorine coming out of the outlet pipes or hanging in the air of a steamy indoor pool room is probably my favorite version of chlorine. But I do love the smell of chlorine from the pool and when I used to lay out in the hot summer sun to dry off, I’d constantly be smelling my arm – it must be something to do with the smell of melanin and warm chlorine together. I find it very interesting that you find one variation attractive and the other not. A difference in scent-memory, perhaps? Or maybe your sniffer is more refined than mine.
well I guess chlorine in the pool is tolerable, but definitley not on skin.
I don’t why? I’m weird like that. I used to like tomato sauce but not tomatoes, but I’ve gone off ketchup now. the smell of cabbage is nice and refreshing but I don’t like the taste of it, I wish I did though, it’s good for you. I like eggs but not the smell, in every form but I dislike the smell of fried eggs the most, which also taste the nicest.
and horse manure does smell nice I didn’t think of that one, my dog eats it whenever we took him to the fields for a walk he’d run and eat the horse poo, one time he rolled in it :O and he absolutley stank after, and not the good horse poo he smelled like actual poo :/ .
and I doubt my nose is any better than everyone elses one here, I probably haven’t smelled half as many things! though my mum says I have a good nose :S .
I’m sure your nose is good, but really, it’s your observations I like.
Oo! Great topic! Baby heads but my experience is probably different. My girls were adopted from the same area of China and the girls smelled remotely of the spices of the city. So spicy baby heads! And the smell of trucks passing can immediately transport me back to China…oh, and airliner fuel too! The whole city had a spicy scent to it and at first it was difficult to be hit in the face every morning with this exotic smell, but I would love to smell it now! (and taste it in Hot Pot! or the spicy pigeon dish!)
Spicy baby head! That’s wonderful. Cities definitely have their own smells.
When I worked in a veterinary clinic, one of my jobs was to clean the surgical tools- and it was heaven- I loved the smell of the soapy bloody water that I washed them in, and the smell they made in the sonicator, and the ‘instrument milk’ that they would soak in, too! And in the fall, I got to do all that while watching the sunset over the swamp out back. It was heavenly! And even though my emploer and co-workers were great, I could never ever admit to them how much I loved the whole sterilization process. And the warm, slightly burnt smell after they came out of the autoclave? Sigh. I miss that job!
And skunks and horse manure and railroad ties are all excellent.
Gosh, you really do live up to your name! We all have our secret smell loves, though….
I wonder how many perfumes have a “blood” note? I’m sure there are more than just Secretions Magnifique, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.
M/Mink is supposed to smell a little like blood, but I didn’t smell it.
I really love the smell of cigarettes (and I’m not a smoker!)
A few others have mentioned that, too!
Excellent article, Angela, I love this topic! I too love the smell of gasoline and spent many a happy time snuffing away in the back of the family station wagon. I also like the smell of a very hot with ‘pleather’ seats – the kind that would singe your thighs the minute you sat down. Evokes happy summer memories – minus the burn pain of course! Do they even make those seats anymore? Also love the smell of matches, a freshly lit cigarette in the cold night air, the smell of garages (Saturday morning jaunts with my dad and h
Damn Safari. I was saying and hugging my Grampa as a little girl when he still ran a garage.
Love the smell of chalk as well, that dusty school smell. Speaking of which, the scent of Wite-Out and Sharpie markers.
Forgot to say Play-Doh! And Band-Aids, the original plain pinky ones with the rubbery adhesive smell. Love it!
Oh yes, playdoh! I’m surprised no one has mentioned yet.
Oh, not Play-Doh for me, urgh. But Band-aids, yes!
Band Aids! Yes, like Scotch.
That oily, metallic “machine shop” smell always makes me happy & sad b/c it smells like my long deceased grampa’s basement.
All marvelous smells! I especially love the hug-your-grandpa one.
Barn smells. The mixture of manure, hay, and animal is so earthy and comforting.
That is such a nice image, especially on a chilly day.
I like the smell of rubbing alcohol. I think it stems back to when my parents used to rub it on their aching shoulders. The smell would permeate their bedroom and it smelled clean and soothing. I guess somewhere in the back of my head it gave pleasing thoughts that my parents were home again, and I felt safe and protected.
Another smell would be the that earthy and musty smell that comes up just as it starts raining on hot pavement.
Oh, yeah, and that combination smell of an Asian specialty store that smells old musty, and of five spice, anise, and temple incense. Same goes for that woody-spicy smell that emanates from boxes that come from imported goods from China.
Last but not least, that civety smell that comes out of an Hermes bag! Eau d’Hermes is a nice animalic spicy smell, but doesn’t compare to the real Hermes bags! <>
It’s extra nice when a smell is coupled with a good memory, like rubbing alcohol is for you. Now, if only the smell of Hermes bags could be a memory for me!
As a Journalism grad I like the smell of newspaper ink and paper. It’s nice to smell when you get to work in the morning, you suddenly know where you are and you know it’s time to work.
Also, the smell right before it rains. It’s kind of a damp, earthy smell with a bit of an electric charge, cause you know something’s coming, that something’s about to happen.
I swear I can smell weather changes, too.
I love the smell of printer’s inks! I used to work for a printing house, plus have done etchings, and I love that petrochemical scent.
When I was a child I loved smelling glue and also the pavement after it had rained.Later, I discovered cigarrettes and I still love that smell(sexy,sexy smell) ,but ,my ultimate fetish is the breath of a guy that has just drunk some whisky (honestly, I’m just blushing thinking about it,lol ).
Great topic Angela,thanks .
Whiskey breath! I can see that. Kind of sexy. Too-much-whiskey breath, not so much.
Of course,!everything in moderation,lol.
I love the smell of burnt popcorn. It reminds me of the movie theaters I used to work in.
My dad pointed out to me that that first, faint whiff of skunk smells like coffee…and, by gum, he’s right. Now I can’t smell coffee without thinking “skunk”, and then thinking “daddy”.
I’m almost looking forward to smelling a skunk again now so I can smell the coffee bit!
I love the smell of the inside of a pumpkin after a candle’s been burning in it for a few hours. Also, ‘glossy paper’ (think new textbooks, magazines, or those glossy business flyers). This last one I embarassingly admit…dirty scalp — not really dirty, but just a day past the time you should have washed your hair…
Dirty, dirty hair is a disgusting smell to me, but I can imagine the slightly dirty scalp smell being good. I forgot about magazines! They do smell good, deep near the binding especially.
Burnt pumpkin, yes! And appropriately seasonal…
Wow may I answer… ALL OF THE ABOVE! (well except for the one of bloody soapy water I think)
I also like the smell of Bug spray (like OFF!) and the smell of NEW MAGAZINE.. like Vogue or Vanity Fair when they are hot off the press. I love it.
You’re an appreciative smeller!
freshly opened plastic toys that come out of a happy meal or cereal box. mmmmmm.
asphalt just as it’s being laid.
and yes, gasoline.
When I was 5 years old, on a camping trip, my uncle found me sitting in my little folding chair behind a parked (idling) truck, blissfully inhaling. They’ve been keeping their eyes on me since.
I’m laughing right now!
Thanks for a really good laugh!! I can so picture that.
Hah! That’s great.
Love this article. The only poll I did on MUA, years ago, was to ask what non-fragrance smells people liked. I’m in a rush right now, but I will have a think and come back to read everyone’s contribution and comment myself. Oooh, can’t wait.
I look forward to reading your smell loves!
I love the smell of ballparks and amusement parks. Must be the mix of hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and the dirt or something!
Places like that often have a pale wash of disinfectant like Pinesol in the mix, too. “Amusement Park” would make a great perfume!
i hate to admit this, but skunk has always fascinated me…it must be a super-concentrated musk, right? i am not totally off my rocker…*looks around*…right?
Yes, to me skunk smells musky, and also sweet. A little whiff — when you go outside and think “Oh, the skunks have been thruogh the yard again” — smells really nice! In stronger concentrations, it can literally make your eyes water with its acrid foulness. Our cat got skunked once and it was unbelievably vile.
There’s a whole passel of skunk lovers here, snowcrocus. You can feel at home.
Old Holland Classic Oil Colors.
The layer of air on top of the ocean.
I love the smell of an artist’s studio, too. Oil paints, turpentine. It’s good.
it’s a wonderful smell, indeed. I use Archival paints (from Australia, I think) they are not as linseedy as Old Holland or Winsor Newton but they have this distinctly buttery-linseed smell…..and feel…oooh.
Sounds like firsthand knowledge–nice!
I looooove that linseed oil smell, and turpentine in small quantities. And watercolor and gouache paints have their own smell too. Ahh, art supplies… it’s been so long since I’ve smelled them and at one point they were part of my daily life.
Ah, was also going to mention oil paints and turpentine – yummmm!
This is not a fetish because it is not something I do every day, but once in a while when I am doing the laundry, as I am putting it into the washing machine, I will just take a big armload of the clothing and bury my face in it and give it a big inhale. And it is really very nice. because it just the two of us, and we are very clean people who shower every day and don’t wear clothing more than once or twice before laundering it, and the unwashed laundry smells of fabric and human scents and distant remnants of whatever fragrances I was wearing. It would not be to everyone’s taste, of course, but it is intimate and pleasant (in small doses).
Also a freshly extinguished wooden safety match, the smell of radiators when you turn them on for the first time in late fall, olive oil in a hot pan (perfume you can cook with!) and the back of a cat’s head.
I think your laundry sniffing is really about love! And that’s nice.
I must have been looking for you! My personal wierd scent was going to be “just dried freshly bathed housecat!” I have been asked what my favorite smell was, and used my “backup” favorite (up the thread a ways, book glue) instead of telling people “cat”. Mostly because thier reaction tends to be one that most people would have if they walked into a house and thought “ew, she has cats” not that of sniffing your just cleaned up bibby.
Probably sucks that the last sniff of said bibby was (I couldn’t help myself, I wouldn’t want to go to the funeral home gross and dirty) was the day they put her to sleep, because…well, I had to take her home and give her a bath first. Couldn’t not do it. So not such a fond smell anymore (I haven’t owned a cat since) but still one of the best smells I know.
Hot tar, car mechanic shops/engine grease, ballpoint pens, and my father’s basement (his garage is heavenly too — both of them smell of damp concrete and mustiness, and the garage adds engine grease and gasoline to the mix). Yum…
Ballpoint pens are a new one to the mix, but I know the smell you mean.
We sure love us some greasy, metallic, dusty smells!
Hoppe’s gun oil. LOVE it!! Brings back memories of my dad cleaning his guns (before or after skeet shooting)
Horse, again. Nothing like the smell of a horse. Specifically, a horse chewing on an apple, so the mashed apple/horse breath smell is the best.
The plastic from the old time blow-up swimming pools for little kids. Oh my god it’s great!
Breyer plastic (model) horses. From when I was a kid.
Insides of old trucks in the winter that smell like hay, cow shit, wet dogs, bailer twine, rubber boots, wool coats, engine grease. Kind of a mix, there.
Gorgeous! I love what you said and how you said it. I just wish I had some mashed-up apple horse breath in a bottle right now.
Old Farm Truck is a favorite of mine, too – not necessarily in the winter, but anytime. To the dust, mud, manure, wool clothes, twine, and oil you mentioned smelling in the truck, I’d add sweat, diesel fuel and iodine (for treating baby calves’ umbilical cord stumps). My grandfather’s truck smelled just like that, and so does The CEO’s.
Another good, car-related smell is Old Volkswagen. There was something about the rubber they used in those things that aged into a very nice, decrepit smell.
You’re right! I had a 74 bug about 20 years ago and the smell was fantastic!
I’ve never smelled that odor in any other type of car, either.
Yes! Breyer horses! I had a zillion of them. I even remember how they smelled.
For me-horse combined with saddle leather, crisp fall day, dry leaves.
That’s a classic combination–hard to beat.
oil paint, turpentine and college-aged male BO (art school fetish!)
Oh. I love turpentine and mineral spirit too. It’s supposedly bad for you, but it reminds me of my childhood and my favorite art teacher. She was beautiful with exquisite red hair-I worshipped her!
I also like the smell of oriental ink- it’s different from the western ones used for calligraphy, and has this matte, mineral quality to it. The smell thickens while your “grinding” the ink in the stone palette, and it’s addictive!
I did a review of Byredo M/Mink last week and had lots of comments from people talking about the smell of ink. Now I’m so curious to smell different inks.
Those old memories die hard…
Turpentine reminds me of my grandmother, who used to paint china.
Reading all the above is so interesting! It reminds me of another weird smell I really like. My sisters and I always called it “worm” smell, but it’s that smell after a really hard rain when tons of worms get up on the sidewalks and roads. There is just this weird smell in the air that I can’t describe at all, but it makes me think of springtime, so I like it.
yes!! love that smell!
Worm smell! Can’t beat that name.
That’s actually one of my least favorite smells in the world. I remember dreading rainy days at my elementary school because the next day the worms would be all over the ground and that disgusting worm smell and I would have to tiptoe over them as to not squish one! I thought I was the only one who labeled it with that name!
You were so nice to step over them! I bet some birds had a real heyday, though.
My best friend has a story about how she and her sister got in trouble for missing the school bus when they were like 6 and 7 because they were trying to avoid stepping on all the worms after a rain. I never remember the worms being THAT thick on the ground!
That does sound like some sort of apocalyptic situation.
I remember that smell and did not like it, either. My sister and I both remarked on it, and would avoid stepping on the worms on the way to school.
I would step over them too or pick them up and move them out of the way so they wouldn’t be stepped on – I was often late for school on rainy days!
Oh, just remembered another one! Back home there was this insect repellent that looked like a twirled incense. You’d light its end and it would burn through the night, keeping those mosquitos at bay.
It’d be sticky hot outside, the air full of monsoon, and thanks to the crappy shower facility I’d pour myself over with several buckets of water, never letting my hair dry (it helped to keep the coolness a bit longer). I then jumped into the mosquito net my grandmother set up. The sheets were made of linen and the pillow stuffed with buckwheat groats, so everything felt airy with a pleasant roughness, and I would just whiff the repellent letting off the smoke. It felt like sleeping in a personal shrine!
Haven’t seen them selling it anymore though…
That is a romantic image if I ever heard one! Thank you.
Thank YOU for reminding me (as well as everyone else here!) – there’s something almost gut wrenching about memories that visit you in olfactory forms- sometimes I get “flashbacks” of certain smells that make me choke up in the middle of nowhere!
Isn’t it crazy how powerful they can be?
Hessed: I used that same kind of coil mosquito repellent incense a couple times when I lived in Africa about 15 years ago. I can’t remember quite how it smelled but I think I gave up after trying it because it was like having a smoke-bomb in the room!
hessed, I was also thinking of mosquito coils – wonderful!
I like that one, too. We called it “punk”, I think.
Hessed, I use a buckwheat hull pillow. Love that smell!
I’m 100% on the gasoline band wagon, and I have to add in decaying leaves in the fall, that rotting vegetation thing, and my dog’s Frito feet…
Oh my god- how could I forget? decaying leaves, of course!
Dog feet are good. Kind of salty, kind of like corn chips.
I love the smell of electricity in the air-when it’s about to storm. You can smell the ozone. When the atmosphere is about to get violent and you can feel the warm and cool air swirling together. I love that smell.
That is a fantastic smell, agreed.
Am I the only one who likes the smell of vinegar? OK, then.
We have a smell here in Florida that Mr. Aparatchick refers to as Florida Funk. It’s the smell of rotting tropical vegetation with an overlay of reclaimed water from sprinkler systems. I’ve grown to appreciate it.
I really love the smell of charcoal burning.
I like drinking fruit vinegar and like vinegary foods, but I never thought of smelling it. Of course, that smell of dyeing Easter eggs is full of vinegar, and I like that.
Slightly rotten windfall apples, still under the tree, on a crisp sunny day. Why do they smell so good then, and so hideous in the fruit drawer? One of life’s mysteries …
I love the smell of cigarette smoke, when it blows by outside, on a warm day. Not indoors, not in winter, only outside when it’s warm.
I’ve been surprised by how many people love the smell of cigarette smoke!
I hate the smell of cigarette smoke. I was forced to breathe it all the time I was growing up, as my father was a 2 to 3 pack-d-day smoker. The house reeked of it, and I would practically choke on it in the car on family vacations. I always had to sit in the very back of the station wagon, and all the smoke would collect there. Now I don’t even like to be around someone who has been smoking, and I refuse to stay in any but a non-smoking hotel room.
I think I’m close to you in my hatred of that smell, having come from a family of smokers; I actually think I’m slightly allergic because of the terrible reaction I have to the smoke. It’s so difficult to be in a house that’s permeated with the smell and it’s why I hated going out to night spots before the smoking bans took effect in so many places.
Gas, skunk, Elmer’s Glue, wet concrete, damp topsoil, horse breath, olive oil, raw pumpkin…I could go on and on. I once mentioned liking the smell of gasoline to my mother-in-law and she told me that her uncle was the person who “invented” the smell of gas. I guess it doesn’t naturally have an odor and the smell is added for safety reasons (so you can tell if there’s a leak, etc.). He created the odorant compound as his college thesis. That means I’m practically related to a famous perfumer, right?
I wonder if your uncle is the one who put the smell in natural gas? I’ve heard natural gas doesn’t have a smell, so they added one. I’d think gasoline comes naturally full of odor.
Gasoline is naturally odiferous. In fact, certain types of organic compounds (such as benzene, xylene, and toluene) are known as aromatic hydrocarbons because they have rather intense “fragrances”. Natural gas is primarily methane, which has little or no odor of its own. The practice of adding odorant to natural gas began after the New London School explosion in 1937. The (odorless) gas had been leaking and accumulating in the crawl space of the building all day, culminating in an explosion which destroyed the building and resulted in at least 300 fatalities.
Wow! You get an A+ for gas history.
The Fire Museum of Texas in Beaumont (which my husband and I visited last year) has a display about the New London School fire, including one of the fire engines which responded to the disaster.
Oops, must be natural gas then. Now I’m starting to wonder if I’ve ever smelled natural gas or if it’s always just been gasoline.
You can smell natural gas only if it has odorant added to it. It is actually the additive you smell, not the natural gas itself. The most commonly used odorant is butylmercaptan. Mercaptans are sulfur compounds which typically have very pungent odors; it is mercaptans which are responsible for the smell of skunk. They are, in fact, so pungent that only a few parts per million are necessary to adequately scent natural gas. That’s really cool if you are sort-of related to the person who came up with the idea. No doubt many lives have been saved as a result.
Wow, so many interesting comments! I haven’t read all, so little time. Maybe I’ll pop back to catch up later.
I can relate to so many from old memories, it was good to remember them. So somethat have already been mentioned that I love as well are: just rained on cement, fireworks, matches, woodsmoke, leaf smoke, the forest after a rain (I’m sure someone must have mentioined that. Actually I like a variety of “after the rain” smells like summer earth, spring earth, fall earth, – they all smell different. Wet asphalt, sidewalks, trees.
But my most interesting was the art room at highschool. I’d go in to work on whatever piece I was doing and I could smell, wax, damp clay, dry plaster, oil paints, pencils, and my favourites oil pastels and India ink. I used to go in on off-times and close my eyes, walk down the aisles, sniff and try to figure out whose piece I was in the vicinity of. I used to think that was fun. I suppose I was an odd kid.
An imaginative kid. One to be admired. And from looking at these comments, not alone!
Love this topic.
My absolutely *favorite* smell is the scent of wet stone or sand, or maybe damp caves. When I was a kid, I used to buy cheap little sand-filled stuffed animals (anyone know what I’m talking about?) just to dip them in water and sniff them furtively when no one else was looking.
I also love the smell of gasoline (like many people, apparently :D), and the smell of dry cat food. And, though I’m slightly ashamed to suggest this, even here, does anyone else detect just that faintest scent in poo that smells just that little bit good?
Maybe this explains why I love Muscs Koublai Khan so very, very much.
Oh yes, you’re made for MKK! (I wouldn’t mind a bottle myself.) I love the story about dipping your stuffed animals in water to smell them.
I know what you mean about the poo. I remember an Eddie Murphy bit about when someone farts, we always purposely smell it first before we complain.
Wow, ooops, none of these things. None, really. Is there anything wrong with me? I love many many smells that are supposed to smell good, but none of the listed. Can’t stand gasoline, can’t stand manure (I’ll be the first one to close the window and hit that recycled air button in the car), don’t like paint or play-doh, not even crayons.
Mushrooms on the forest floor — but that IS gorgeous I think!
And yes, smell of the rain (kindly ask to keep the asphalt please).
And two BOs — my mother’s and my husband’s. No perfumed, just their clothes, the longer worn the better.
It’s perfectly all right not to like strange smells! Mushrooms on the forest floor are a wonderful smell, I’d imagine.
So many of my favorites have already been said – gasoline, garage, wet asphalt and concrete, ditto paper (LOVE!), ink, crayons, etc. But I don’t think anyone has mentioned vinyl records yet. That great smell when you’ve just gotten a new LP and have torn off the shrink-wrap. Yum! Oh, and the smell of the shrink-wrap machine as well, when you’re wrapping up LPs at the record store you work at.
That’s a good one! Vinyl records, yes.
Ooh, vinyl records — plus that disk-washer stuff we used to clean them. Someone should combine the notes of vinyl records and ditto paper… Eau de Nostalgia.
I love the smell of my basement! Mustylicious! LOL … and the smell of hot sawdust off the circular saw, matches, that old clothes smell that all my 50s dresses have, fresh cigarette smoke(especially in the cold), and that turkey grease that’s on the bottom of the oven that smokes a tiny bit when I turn it on is pretty good too… I should clean that thing!
Yes, a musty, slightly-damp basement!
Oh, the smoky oven smell. I’m not wild about that smell, mostly because it reminds me I could be a better housekeeper.
The ozone smell that the old Mixmasters give off remind me of the bustle and excitement at my parents’ house when they were getting ready to have a big dinner party. That, and the small of old silver and Wright’s silver cream. Polishing the candelabra was my little chore.
The smell of diesel fumes reminds me of my childhood in Paris.
The combined scents of leather, moldy wool and WD40 bring back memories of riding in my Dad’s vintage MG.
I have some Wright’s around–now I want to polish something and smell the cleaner mix with tarnish.
The smell of a particular kind of mold. I bought a house, once, that had mold (or mildew) in the fitted carpet in the basement. I had to rip it out, of course, but it smelled exactly like puppy breath!
I don’t think I’ve ever smelled mold like that, but now I want to!
Hi Angela. I can’t wait to read all these comments. Some smells I like that are a bit odd:
– latex paint (LOVE this… I’m in heaven in freshly-painted interiors; there’s something in Iris Ganache that reminds me of it too).
– creosote… but only up to a point or it can make me ill.
– a damp, slightly musty basement (especially in the summer).
– just a slight whiff of skunk… yes, it’s loathsome, but also somehow addictive.
– chlorine bleach (again, needs to be slight or it seriously messes up your nose).
– that ozonic-electrical smell when something shorts out or wires start burning.
– slightly fetid coastal marshland — a combination of delicious salt water and sea scents, with an undertone of perhaps rotting vegetation or stagnant brackish water.
Funny how many of these are nasty scents but somehow pleasurable in the right setting.
I agree regarding the B.O. of someone whom you find appealing.
Final story: apparently, my sweet departed Great-Aunt Honey loved the smell of camphor balls (old-style moth balls) as a child and had a bit of a scare once because she got one lodged in her nostril; apparently it was able to be gently removed without any consequences.
It seems like the smells you like have in common that they’re somehow moisture related. Interesting.
What a hilarious story, too! (1) Anyone named Aunt Honey is worth a good story or two; and (2) mothball lodged in nose! Hysterical!
I was just going to add burning electrical components to my list — mmm mmm good!
I love the smell of moth balls so much that I have an open box of them in my hallway
I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned brand-new tennis shoes, preferably Keds… I love that. Also, the dusty-hot smell of cut rubber, when they make hoses at the auto parts store. I love that, too, and all my coworkers think I’m nuts. (Yes, I like Bvlgari Black, too.)
Damp leaf mould. Hot dust. Band-aids. Dried manure. Sawdust.
Raw turnips. Fresh ream of paper. Rubber cement. WD-40 (but not gasoline). Brewery. Pinto beans on the back of the stove. Porter’s liniment salve (tea tree oil, camphor, clove, cresolic acid, myrrh, sassafras oil, beeswax) – it’s highly aromatic and on the verge of scary, but totally distinctive, and it smells like my mama loves me…
As a side note, I have to say that the worst farm smell ever is burnt hydraulic fluid – it smells like decomposing robot bodies.
Decomposing robot bodies?!
You’re so right about new Keds! I didn’t even think of it until you brought it up.
Oh, I love rubber cement! That and permanent markers that have the metal casing. My parents used to get at my for trying to smell both…they were afraid I’d get high, but I just loved them for the smells.
Rubber cement sure does smell good. Plus you can make those great little balls from it.
-The smell of the topsoil in my garden. Sometimes in the spring, when I am planting, I will pick up a handful of soil just to smell it.
-Wet leaves and grass after a rain.
-The smell of the rum distillery I toured last year. A sweet, molasses-y smell.
-The slightly musty smell of old books. I love libraries.
Book smell is wonderful, including the bindings. Once I spent an afternoon in the stacks of the Library of Congress (looking at back issues of the Beer Digest–I think that’s what it was called–of all things, long story.) Heavenly smell.
We’re a bunch of weirdos! My dad was a pressman for a newspaper so ink is a very pleasing and sentimental smell for me. Also musty books, fried onions/peppers, thunderstorms, pinesap, and clean potting soil.
Yes we are and proud of it!
Skunk Yes (not so distant, though… I love hitting a particular heavy spot after driving through the countryside).
capguns (you know the kind that had the red roll of caps that wound through the gun?)
When a heater is turned on after a summer and the dust gets heated
There was a hair mouse that I used to wear in middle school that had a very distinct smell… can’t remember the name, but I can smell it to this day.
My mother’s head.
snowcones (or shaved ice)
A ton others, some I’m not too keen to mention.
All great smells! Love that capgun smell.
I like a lot of the scents above, especially the purple ink ditto sheets and Crayola crayons!
My father had something called gun blue that he used to clean hunting guns. Don’t know if this is similar to the Hoppe’s gun oil that mough mentions. It helped to maintain that gunmetal blue color. Haven’t smelled it for decades, but it was a delicious scent. I also enjoy kerosene.
Old-fashioned laundry starch. It came in a powder and had to be made up somehow (cooked maybe?). I think it was bluish. Delicious smell!
Gasoline, WD-40, kerosene, gun blue, ditto sheets – isn’t it odd that we love the smell of these petrochemicals that we probably shouldn’t be inhaling?
I know! Something about VOCs really does it, I guess.
How about the smell of coolant in form an engine… it has the almost maple-syrupy sweetness to it that you get at the beginning of cold weather when the heater hasn’t been used in a long time. Delish!
Also a big fan of gasoline and the woods after rain.
That’s an interesting one! Coolant smells awful to me.
Oh yes, antifreeze. It’s such an odd, sweetish smell–you’re right, just like maple syrup.
I haven’t seen this one yet… I absolutely love the smell of museums. Specifically new museums, that have climate control, etc. I work in an art museum and the vault (where all the artworks are stored when they aren’t on view) smells like heaven. It is kept fairly humid, and at a consistent temperature, and the light is always the same (somewhat dim). The smell of archival paper and slate floor fills the space. Depending on which drawers you open, you will be greeted by the slightly vinegar scent of old photographs, or the heavy, wooden musty smell of renaissance prints. The scents get trapped and concentrated in the drawers… the dry-as-bones smell of 3000 year old pottery is chilling. Unwrapping gifts that come in is a fascinating experience… often you will smell the object before even identifying it, like when taking off the protective layers from a 19th century hand carved New Mexican saint (santos), the pine-resin and wood wafts up long before you see the cracked, painted surface. Combine that with the smell of the in-house woodshop (for building false walls and pedestals) and constant pot of black coffee…. can you tell I love working in a museum? I tend to choose perfume based on what period of art I’m working on at the time as well.
Now I long to visit the archives of a museum! I’d wear Mythique. I just know it would be perfect.
What fun I’ve had reading all of this! For me, thumbs up for gasoline, steaming post-rain asphalt, rich mud, hot roofing tar, and seaweed in almost any condition. And onion fields! Any other takers for onion fields?
Where I live, the wild onions grow profusely in the spring. It is common in March and April for the outdoors to smell like onions when people are mowing their lawns. I absolutely love that smell! It makes me hungry, though–I get a craving for a hamburger.
Love this! What is a hamburger without onions, anyway?
I don’t think I’ve been in a whole onion field. Sounds good, though.
I think it’s always fun (for about 30 seconds) to drive through Gilroy on US-101 and smell the garlic fields.
Joe, this is why we’re engaged, just so ya know…
I was just going to write about Gilroy. You can only do it for 30 seconds, though? I can do it for days! I love that faintly horseradishy sharpness that lodges in the back of my nose/throat, smelling the garlic in the fields….and, ooooh! The combo smell of the sea and artichokes in Castroville….I used to drive from LA to SF (going inland and back to US1) and loved how the smell changed as one went hither and yon… now I’m hungry..
As a child, my father always loved driving around the onion fields in the area, much to my mother’s dismay. I wonder if he found the smell pleasing, as well?
I’ll bet he did!
My grandfather owned a sugar cane processing plant in Taiwan, and I remember touring the place when I was very little: the smell nearly knocked me out – but when I got used to it I loved it. It was this wheaty, dark, dark burning molasses smell. It was the roaring evil twin of pretty, like sugar smells, so strong and robust and dark.
I also remember getting something poured on cuts and scrapes – can’t remember the name but it came in an opaque brown plastic bottle, and it bubbled when poured. And I thought it smelled like … hot dogs!
Was it hydrogen peroxide? It usually comes in an opaque brown bottle, to protect it from light (which will cause it to decompose into water and oxygen), and it bubbles when it is applied to a wound. I never thought of it smelling like hot dogs, though.
What an amazing smell that factory must have made! Thanks for telling us about it. I bet the bubbling antiseptic was hydrogen peroxide. I liked it much better than iodine when I was a kid because it didn’t hurt as much, and the bubbles were cool.
Janjan, I know the smell you mean! I grew up around sugar cane fields and a sugar mill. That smell is an acquired taste. I love it, too!
One of my favorite scent memories was driving by the sugar cane fields at night on the island of Maui. It is similar to the smell of driving by Midwest corn fields in July/August. After they’ve roasted in the torrid heat all day, the green-sugary smell would just hang in the cool, humid night air. The sugar cane fields, though, were just a bit more heavenly, mixed with the distinct volcanic earth and the salt air. Magic.
LaMaroc, I love your description! Now I want to visit corn country.
I forgot solder — fantastic smell, plus it conjures memories of sitting by my father while he made his crappy Heathkit digital clocks, calculators, etc. And now that solder is no longer made of lead, I can inhale to my heart’s content.
Mmm, that nice burning solder smell. I forgot all about Heathkits! I wonder if they still make them?
Fabulous topic! Fiddlehead ferns when they first come out of the ground. Lightning–or the ozone after it. Desert rains that smell of wet cement, asphalt, and creosote bushes. Beeswax candles, freshly put out. Sumi inks–but not all of them. The smoky vegetal ones. The burnt incense ones. Black drawing ink by Dr. Ph. Martin. Koh-I-Noor is just OK. Mimeograph ink, but it has to be fresh. An old rubber hot water bottle. A printing shop, and, similarly, the newspaper composing room where I used to work. An elementary school closed for the summer. Absolutely cap gun caps and crayons. My cat’s feet–they smell like sidewalk and Fritos–and before we start imagining naughty things–she puts her fuzzy foot on my nose to wake me up. German Band-Aids called Hansa-Plast. Rubber cement. OK, I’m showing my age.
Fabulous list! The one I love the most is closed-up elementary school. I’d know that smell anywhere–the cleanser, the floor wax, the chalkboards.
ho, yus! on the elem. school. The one in this town is late 50s-early 60s design and it has that era’s smell, as opposed to earlier school buildings.
Gyms. That weird combo of sweat, floor wax, rubber (gymshoes and balls)
The smell of a clean, very hot whirlpool/steamroom. Yum!
Oh yes, steamroom smell!
Rubber hot water bottle!! A few years ago I found one and was so sad when it wore out – it was true India Rubber and it smelled amazing.
I love skunk, near or far….. hubby does too.
We are a bunch of skunk lovers. Who knew?
Definitely love the book smell! Working in libraries, it’s great to open a box full of brand new books, especially big, coffee table ones- the heavy paper and inks smell wonderful. Old books if it’s a rich time-worn smell- no so much if it’s spilled food and grimy books smell-ewww!
Count me in on the fuel lovers wagon. The gas and mowed grass smell on the lawnmower blades when you are cleaning them. The shop smell of oil, metal, welding arc, and Lava soap.
Best is the military motor pool diesel plus sweaty BDU smell, with a touch of fresh grass. Shipyards smell good too. I wanted to bottle the odor of Pearl Harbor, ships, guy smell, plus flowers mixed in.
I think you have the foundation for a pretty great perfume!
I also love the smell of the pages in a new book-not sure if its the ink, the paper or the two combined! I also like the smell of the interior of a new car and fresh air dried laundry-often catch myself- as im taking the washing off the line-sniffing each piece-must look strange!!
I’m a big fan of air dried laundry, especially sheets. In the summer my clothing smells delicious.
Yes! I love that clean, sometimes musky smell of clothes on the line.
If anyone’s still reading this deep, all I can say is that you gasoline lovers really need to get samples or decants of Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia fragrance. It has a rough hit of gasoline in the opening (so much that it made my eyes bug out the first time I sniffed it) and then it dries down to a mechanical-leather automotive smell. It’s quite the scent experience, and definitely worth trying a bit of.
I’d also recommend AG Eau de Fier as a smoother, more wearable version of the Nostalgia. I’ve also discovered that Seventh Generation tub cleaner smells like gasoline — I think it’s the thymol, and I’m loving cleaning the tub!
Well, I could definately use something that could make me love cleaning the tub. I’m in a building that’s practically antique and the horrible (freaking cast iron) thing is just deep enough that to get all the way to the back-ish corner of it, I’m crushing my sternum. And I am not a little girl, there’s a LOT of me pushing down on my sternum!
That does remind me…was it Old English or Old Gold floor wax? Not sure of the name, but that mixed with that um….”somebody’s” Oil Soap for the wood floors in my mother’s house…great smell, that one.
Maybe Murphy’s Wood Oil Soap? It has such a nice smell.
Good luck with the tub! I have a cast iron tub, too, and although it’s heaven for baths it’s a bear to clean.
Ys, Murphy’s, that’s exactly it! Thanks!
And the only thing that keeps me from complaining more about my tub is the thought that at least it’s not a clawfoot or a slipper. *wince*
Sounds right up my alley. I’ve only smelled it at the store, and I remember oily leather. Now that I know there’s a hit of gasoline there…
Wow, everything I love has been mentioned except for my VERY favourite smell…..the smell of my babies and especially their breath!
also my CEO
Having grown up in South Africa, on the coast, I grew up with the smells of the sea,the beach, the forests the ferns, the firs , the oaks, leaves, rains, asphalts, animals…Blessed, blessed fragrances..all changing with the seasons, the time of day, not just marijauna, but Durban Poison!!!, fireplaces, burning wood, the smell of the Opera house and freshly baked bread….french fries with vinegar, fresh cut grass, cigarettes…the list is endless…everything in my memory has a smell!!
At the end of the Sabbath, we have a prayer to carry us from one SAbbathe to the next. one of the things we do is to take a smell of spices and the aroma is supposed to be a sweet promise to carry us through the week…when u take that deep sniff, together with the spiritual teachings behind it, it is very special indeed
I love the ritual of smelling something to take you to the next week! That’s beautiful, thanks for the story.
That aticle made me laugh. And I am glad I’m not only one liking smell of gasoline. I also like the smell of soil or forest after the rain.
But my favorite is the smel of old library.
Old library is indeed a fabulous smell.
Burnt matches – heavenly. The smell of fireplace when the wood starts burning wood.
i adore it!
when woods starts burning.**
I knew what you meant! The fireplace is one of my favorite things about winter.
I always loved the smell of gasoline also. As a child I remember my grandfather’s garage smelled divine. But I don’t think gasoline smells quite as good these days as it used to. Maybe due to the additives that are put in gasoline now, or my sniffer has changed.
Queen Cupcake, above, says it’s changed, and it sounds like you sense it, too. Sad!
Oh, yes. The smell of trains – that ozonic smell around the wheels, I’m not even sure what it is, perhaps something they use to oil the machinery, perhaps a bi-product of heat and metal in motion, as far as I remember both electric, diesel and steam trains have similar smells.
Steam engines smell fantastic to, while I’m at it. And wet pavement after a summer shower, and peat marshes.
Yes! The smell of a train coming and going in the Paris metro is sweet and delicious. I have no idea what makes that smell, but I adore it.
Machine shop: burnt metal and cutting fluid. Puppy breath. Crayons, cap guns, sparklers! The OLD lipstick formulas–I had swiped a tube of my mother’s Revlon Fire & Ice when I was a kid because I loved to smell it. My cats’ fur when they come in from tramping the woods in cold weather.
Oh yes, sparklers! They’re so much fun, too.
scrolling through your inputs I just remembered the smell of colophony, which I used frequently when I still thought I might have some talent for violin playing.
Another thing are typical smells of places (e.g. the metro in Paris)..
You smart people are sending me to the dictionary for “colophony”…
Magic markers (the big ones)
Kitty breath. Really too pretty to be a fetish, especially when exhaled from the divine and furry Mae West cat.
I love the smell of tobacco for pipe especially if it has cherry scent but in general i love them all. not that I smoke them, just when someone who is smoking it passes by, love the smell. just when it starts raining the smell of the ground with its first raindrops creates a scent that I really love. i’s sure there are others but right now can’t remember!
Same here. I sometimes think I should get some pipe tobacco and burn it around the house, like incense.
Both of those are terrific smells, really wonderful.
For me the #1 is gas,I would roll the window down as a kid just to sniff and I love ski-doo fumes…OMG I love that smell!
And I love the smell of new books and magazines…I probably look like a freak when I am sniffing my new magazine at the airport.
I’m guessing we all look a bit freaky smelling the odd things we do!
More than gazoline, the smell of lighter fuid–as in Zippo lighter gets me everytime.
The smell of a cigarette as it is just being lit by a match: that mixture of sulfur, burning wood and tobacco ….
rotting leaves and wood in the forest (on a fall day–even better)
Lighter fluid is wonderful stuff.
I’m smelling them right along with you!
Anyone like the smell of Scotch tape?
I’m going to smell some as soon as I get to work!
I don’t think I have anything new to add, but here are some of my favorite smells:
– matches, before and after struck
– horse stable (the combo of all elements: sweaty horses, saddle leather, hay, manure)
– wet concrete after rain
– decaying leaves
Oh, those have been popular smells, and for good reasons!
The lining of a woman’s purse when she has had both paper and coin money in it, mixed with Juicy Fruit gum and remnants of her favorite perfume.
Prefrably a leather purse.
Great poll. Sorry I missed it yesterday. Let’s see, gasoline, used to love the smell of school paste and elmers glue, new car (leather) smell.
School paste was good enough to eat, I agree.
Steam radiators. Snow.
Just those few words create such a picture!
Darn. I had finally left the thread when I thought of another one that’s recently become a favorite. Does anyone else like the smell of “unscented” deodorant? Not on anyone, but on the stick? I guess it would actually be a smell of…well, unscented deodorant and um “clean armpit?” Which I guess would be like soap and skin or something. I guess that “clean” scent fetish that seems so prevalent is getting in my head or something.
That’s a new one to the thread!
Raw gasoline here too – and the delicious smell of SKUNK on a summer night, and hay, horses, barns…. I once smelled a wolf up close, he had been rescued after being injured, and the smell of that animal was pure WILDNESS, I have been wanting it again for years. The musky aroma of his fur lingered for hours on my hands and I never wanted to wash it off.
I like that wild, almost wet smell of raccoons – I have had them in my house and they leave behind a scent that is very exciting.
That sounds scary!
My gosh! Wild wolf! I wish I could smell it.
I love the smell of sushi bars – the clean raw fish, fresh laundered towels, sweet sour rice and green tea. They all have similar nuances going on no matter how varied. I also like the smell aquariums. I guess I like dank algae smells and clean fishy smells, yet I hate hate hate aquatic perfumes. Maybe I haven’t met the right one? I don’t know, this smell fetish is something I long to smell, not smell LIKE – probably similar to the gasoline fetish.
I agree–most of these smells are great out in the wild, but not on my forearm.
I’m totally late on this, but I wanted to add that I LOVE the smell of rubbing alcohol. Love it!
And it’s available in such abundance! You’re lucky.
As a child, I, too, used to squat down behind an idling vehicle and breathe deeply until my horrified parents put an end to it!
When I smell a skunk prowling outside, I first smell coffee.
And just so you know, I am one of those rare humans that does not like the smell of babies, no matter how clean they are.
I thought this topic could easily veer off into rather unsavoury territory, but alas, it did not, in keeping with the very classy nature of this blog!
I had my fears about comments wavering toward the quasi-obscene, too, but it turns out ditto machines and gasoline tanks are more alluring!
Count me in for the smell of leaded gasoline, ditto (mimeograph)sheets – Mom & Dad were both music teachers – I remember those sheets very well ! I would add the little souvenir pillows full of balsam we would bring home from various vacation locations. But, my most favorite smell was a unique combination…My Mom, on occasion, would play in an orchestra either for a local school musical or as a sub for a visiting group. I loved watching her get ready for the event. She would get all dressed up (hot iron on a white blouse), red lipstick, a few spritzes of Cachet and the wonderful smell of bow rosin as she opened her violin case is etched in my brain and heart forever !
One of these days I should buy myself a rosin cake – much less expensive than the perfumes on my wish list !
Oh yes, do get yourself some rosin! It sounds like it would lead to wonderful memories.
I am late to the conversation again! It’s not a smell fetish, but since it’s something a lot of people think is a bad smell, I’ll mention. The thing I love about really stinky old French cheeses is that on first whiff they truly smell like old socks. Then you sniff again – just a second after – and they smell so good! I’ve tried this again and again and it’s true every time for me. Some trick of the nose. (The taste is often too strong for me to eat more than just a nibble, though.)
Oh yes, I’m so surprised no one has mentioned cheese yet! Such a fabulous smell. Now I’m craving Taleggio.
Oh! I can’t believe I left out Vick’s VapoRub! Mentholated delight for the nose.
Hairspray. Smelling it reminds me of watching my mother and sister get ready for nights out or special occasions when I was a kid, and puts me in a good mood. Plus, a lot of the new hairsprays just smell great of their own accord. The Nexxus maximum hold spray smells almost vetiver-ish, and Tresemme’s sprays are like fruit smoothies.
I don’t think anyone has mentioned hairspray yet–and you’re a connoisseur of it!
I absolutely love (almost to the point of arousal) the smell of garages, moldy basements, pinesol, gasoline, new tires, and new tennis shoes. Didn’t really enjoy all the smells up until a few years ago. Almost wondered if I had a tumor or something, had that checked out and I don’t. So, I guess it’s my system or brain changing or something!
That’s so interesting how your brain changed! Oliver Sachs should study you.
Ah gasoline is favourite smell! Filling up my dads old truck was my favourite thing to to. Sometimes I would pour a little gasoline on my fingers just so I could smell it! Ah delicious!
A great list! I forgot about matches. New leather, is, of course, a real favorite.
I’m absolutely in love with the smell of a musty, moldy basement. The wet cement from a leak or flood, the mildew, the wood rot. It’s truly breathtaking for me. I also crave the smell of an old books pages. Or the aromatic fragrance of a used bookstore or old dusty library.
Books and library smells are classic, but this is the first time I’ve thought about musty basement! I appreciate my basement even more now–thank you!
-Cigarette/exhaust/perfume accord (smelled in Europe)
-Moth balls, preferably in a basement
-old book-crayons-makeup-eraser-pencil shavings-new clothes
-airplane stale air (holdover from childhood – I’ve never traveled for work)
I love the smell of bleach. I remember going to the hospital as a kid, and delighting in the experience.
Most people associate this smell with an unpleasant, even traumatic experience. But eh, not for me.