•Researchers report that our responses to certain odours are based on past experiences with the scent.
•With the exception of irritating odours, smell is something we come to know from personal and cultural experiences
Well, you have to admit, even though most of us love the smell of fresh roses and expensive perfumes, there are a few strange or weird smells that we secretly love.
The Star had a chat with a few Kenyans from the streets of Nairobi and here is what they had to say.
Kennedy Murimi, 20, said he always loves the way hospitals smell.
“For most people, the smell triggers involuntary memories of negative events. But I love to smell the saturated alcohol, it just smells clean. And since I was a kid, it is something I have grown fond of,” Murimi said.
Murimi said he cleans his house with bleach, antiseptic, and Dettol, just to make his house smell like a hospital.
A study showed that 88 per cent of people are willing to trust the healthcare environment if it smells as clean.
Kelly Wanjiru, 33, says that her love for the smell of burnt rubber is something she has found hard to quit.
“I live next to a garage, so most of the time when they are burning some rubber waste, I usually come out of the house, just to enjoy the sweet smell,” she said.
Bristone Wiganjo says his love for the smell of ammonia is unbreakable.
“I just don’t mind the smell of urine. I have grown up with siblings who used to bed wet, so most of the time, I was surrounded by the smell of urine. I guess I just got used to it,” he said.
James Ondiek, 47, says that he finds the smell of petrol and diesel very pleasing.
“My wife always complains whenever we stop over at a petrol station for fuel, but I am usually unbothered. In fact, I step out of the vehicle to sniff it more,” Ondiek said.
Is liking the smell of gasoline normal?
According to Scientific American, "When gas evaporates, it gives off compounds, including aldehydes, which are found naturally in peaches and cherries, and benzene, an aromatic hydrocarbon that boosts the octane rating."
Your olfactory system may be sensitive to those sweet smells. As long as you don't huff the fumes, you're fine.
Recently, a girl took to her Facebook page to rant that her boyfriend always smells her armpits whenever they are hanging out together.
Irene* said after confronting him, he said that the smell of armpits always turned him on especially if they are sweaty.
They say love is in the armpits. The idea is based on the science of pheromones, the chemical signals that creatures from gerbils to giraffes send out to entice mates.
"When you're in a relationship, the smell of your partner becomes a way to identify with that person even if you're not always fully aware of it," researchers say.
"Their scent becomes comforting and a source of positive feelings, so you come to enjoy it,” he said in a study.
Smell of blow-dried hair
Kingston Wanjala says he loves the smell of freshly blow-dried hair. It is something that he recently discovered after he took his wife to the salon.
“I had to buy a blow dryer for her, she doesn’t know the real reason why I bought it. Sometimes I wish I could save that smell in a bottle and sniff it from time to time,” Wanjala said.
If you ever used high heat on your hair, then you may be familiar with the smell of burning hair.
The love for the smell of rain is known as petrichor.
A lot of people love the smell of wet soil, in fact, some scientists believe that humans appreciate the rain scent because ancestors may have relied on rainy weather for survival.
The surprising thing is that the smell does not come from dirt itself. Scientists have traced the pleasant odour to an organic chemical called geosmin.
Lisa Nyambura says she loves the smell of nail polish but her husband always complains of headaches whenever she applies.
A study shows that toluene, the chemical found in nail polish responsible for creating a smooth application and finish, has a sweet, pungent smell that is found in both nail polish and nail polish removers.
Some may find it sweet smelling while others find it irritating.
Risper Chelagat, 25, is a non-smoker who loves the smell of a burning cigarette.
“I have never smoked before, nor will I ever try, but there is just something about the smell of burning cigarette,” she says.
“I think it also partially depends on the brand because some smell better than others to me. I have no idea what the brands are though because I don't smoke. My grandparents used to.”
Researchers from Brown University in Providence, RI, report that our responses to certain odours are based on past experiences with the scent.
"Most people assume we all like the smell of roses and hate the smell of skunk," lead researcher Rachel Herz, PhD, a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Brown, tells WebMD.
"But with the exception of irritating odours, smell is something we come to know from personal and cultural experiences."
Alan R. Hirsch, MD, neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, tells WebMD that the use and role of smells will clearly grow in the coming years.
In general, smells can help people lose weight, boost sexual arousal, increase the speed of learning, reduce the severity of migraine headaches, and even quell claustrophobia, says Hirsch, who has conducted numerous experiments on how scent affects behaviour, mood, and perception.