In surveys, when asked which of the five senses people would prefer to give up if they had to sacrifice one, the one most often chosen was the sense of smell. People don’t realize how important the sense of smell is.

It’s odd that we can see only when there is light; taste only when we put things into our mouths; feel only when we make contact; and hear sounds only when they are loud enough. But we smell with every breath we take. Cover the eyes, and you can’t see; plug the ears, and you can’t hear; close your mouth, and you can’t taste; put mittens on, and you can’t feel. But plug up your nose – and you die.

The sense of smell is fully developed at birth, while the other senses lag behind. A baby recognizes its mother through smell rather than sight. In study after study, mothers can recognize their newborn by scent alone.

Neurons in the nose are replaced every 30 days or so, ensuring a constant supply of brand-new scent organs available at all times.

For years it was estimated that humans could distinguish between 10,000 different odors. However, recent research shows it’s actually nearly infinite.

The sense of smell is estimated to be 10,000 times more sensitive than the sense of taste. Smell is thought to account for at least 70% of flavor. Plug your nose while eating a jelly bean, and you’ll be able to taste the sweetness, but not the flavor, until you unplug your nose.

Today, there’s an entire science behind scent. Most odors can be created in a lab. One of the first perfumes based entirely on synthetic odors manufactured in a laboratory was Chanel No. 5. The aroma of burned almonds can be reproduced in a lab with 75 different chemical combinations, none of which have anything to do with almonds or fire.

The biggest consumers of artificial fragrances are industries that deal with detergents and soaps. Often, things labeled as “scent-free” have a synthetic musk-based odor added to cancel the natural smell of the product.

Not everything has an odor. For a scent to be present, a substance must be able to release microscopic particles into the air. Things like stone, steel, and glass don’t. A raw cabbage has a mild odor, but a cooked cabbage has a strong one because more particles escape.

Women have keener noses than men. Pregnant women have especially sensitive noses.

The sense of smell peaks at age 18 or 19 and then gradually declines for the rest of our lives, along with taste.

An early indicator of the onset of Alzheimer’s is the loss of the ability to smell.

Depression hinders our ability to smell.

Weightless astronauts lose much of their ability to taste and smell in space because the spread of smelly particles is surprisingly dependent upon gravity.

During the pandemic, loss of smell was one of the leading indicators of Covid-19. It’s not yet understood why Covid patients who did NOT lose their sense of smell were more likely to be hospitalized and put on a ventilator.

The sense of smell ‘turns off’ during sleep, so when you “wake up and smell the coffee,” it’s not the scent of coffee that woke you up.

Volunteers were given a selection of identical t-shirts to smell. Mothers were efficient at picking out the t-shirt worn by their child, and spouses were adept at choosing the t-shirt worn by their partners. Most people could correctly guess whether a male or female had worn the shirt.

A poll found that freshly baked bread ranks #1 on the list of favorite odors, narrowly beating out roses, vanilla, lavender, and lemon.