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The Science Behind Scent and How It Affects Your Emotions

The Science Behind Scent and How It Affects Your Emotions

When you were in elementary school, you were probably taught your five senses: touch, taste, hearing, sight, and smell. Did you know one of those senses is more powerful than you might have realized? While the sense of smell, also known as your olfactory sense, might not typically be associated with the term “power,” there is evidence that it can have a deep impact on emotions and behaviors. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in understanding the science behind scent and its effects on your emotional well-being. In this post, we will explore the fascinating world of scent, how your sense of smell works, and the profound influence it has on your emotions.

The Science of Scent

If you’ve never looked at the science behind scent, it is an absolutely fascinating area of study and more complex than most would imagine. To put it in easily digestible terms, scents are made up of tiny molecules that float in the air. These little molecules stimulate the olfactory receptors in our noses. The receptors receive the message and then send signals to the olfactory bulb, which is part of the brain. The olfactory bulb then processes the signals and interprets them quickly. According to the Harvard Gazette’s article What The Nose Knows, “Smells are handled by the olfactory bulb, the structure in the front of the brain that sends information to the other areas of the body’s central command for further processing. Odors take a direct route to the limbic system, including the amygdala and the hippocampus, the regions related to emotion and memory.” In short, scents can be directly correlated with your memories and bring moments back to you that you may have forgotten.

Scent: A Time Machine of Sorts

Since scent is linked to memories, emotions, and even physiological responses, it can affect you deeply. For example, when you smell freshly mowed grass, a familiar cologne, or a certain type of food, these scents can act as a time machine of sorts. If you come across a familiar scent, it might activate something in your brain that could bring  back memories from long ago, perhaps even memories you haven’t thought about in a while. According to, “Smells can arouse deeply buried memories rich in emotional color. Odors may summon older memories associated with more intense feelings than either sights or sounds. Smells are so powerful that scientists have suggested they could be used to treat dementia and memory loss associated with old age.” 

How Scent Affects Emotions and Your Mood

Using scent to control emotions is a fairly well-known practice and one that has been utilized and recognized for centuries. According to the International Federation of Aromatherapists, “Aromatic oils have been a part of human history for more than 3,500 years BC and appear with regularity throughout all major civilisations down the ages, with uses ranging from religious ritual, food flavouring, medicines, perfumery and the masking of bad odours.” 

Scents and scented oils have been used for quite some time to help with certain ailments. For example, scents such as lavender or peppermint have been shown to have a calming effect and can be beneficial for individuals struggling with anxiety or stress. Citrus or eucalyptus can be invigorating or energizing for those times when you feel worn-out or sluggish. Scents have the ability to interact with your brain and nervous system to generate noticeable mental, emotional, and even physiological responses to help in our everyday lives. 

As mentioned above, when you inhale a scent, the olfactory receptors in your nose send signals to the limbic system of your brain, which is responsible for regulating your emotions and behavior. This simple act can then trigger the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin or dopamine, that can have a powerful effect on your mood and overall sense of well-being. Scent not only can bring back memories, but the right type of scent might also help with things like managing stress, anxiety, and other mood-related issues. The effects of scents are still being studied, so it is important to try different scents out and see what effects they have on you and your mood.

The Gift of Scent

With all of this in mind, giving the gift of something that smells familiar or could help with calming someone’s mood can actually be far more thoughtful than you may have imagined. But how do you give the gift of scent? One of the easiest ways is with wax warmers and wax melts. Using scents in your home can promote a calming environment, elicit memories and make your space smell  more inviting. In fact, talks about how scent “...stimulates our limbic system, the part of the brain that is home to our memory and emotions. Hormones like serotonin and dopamine can be produced to help regulate mood. Therefore, our emotional state is influenced by the relationship that exists between scents, memories, and emotions." Thoughtfully selecting scented wax melts that might help a person relax or remind them of something familiar can be impactful and help to create an emotional experience that they won’t soon forget.

You might think  that a wax warmer and wax cubes are too generic of a gift, but they absolutely are not. If you decide to give someone these items, rest assured that you’re not just giving them a warmer. You are potentially giving them a way to connect to old memories, change their mood, and  have a clean-smelling home! Find out what types of scents they prefer, and shop for wax in one of our six fragrance families to find new favorites! For more information about wax warmers and scented wax cubes, don’t forget to visit our website at

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