‘Nothing brings to life again a forgotten memory like a fragrance’  ~ Unknown

Looking at all our senses, the scent is the most powerful trigger of emotions and memories.  We are 100 times more likely to remember something we smelled compared to what we saw, heard, touched or tasted.  Smells can also bring back long-term memories, memories that otherwise would have been lost to the conscious mind.  It becomes part of our emotional memories because it is stored in the emotional part of the brain, as opposed to memories that are stored in the thinking part of our brain.  

Smells evoke both feelings and emotions – the positive as well as the negative.   Scientists estimate the human body has at least 1 000 different smell receptors and only four types of light sensors for touch.

Let’s look at some scents that always elicit emotion and memory, no matter how young or old you are.


The fragrance of freshly brewed coffee invigorates the senses and shouts; ‘carpe diem!’.  The smell reminds us of home and early mornings or late evenings, sitting around the kitchen table and connecting with our loved ones.  Coffee is also called the friendship brew and that may be the reason why good friends meet in a coffee shop to catch up.


The clean and refreshing scent of fresh lemon plays a role in creating a calming and mood-improving feeling.


Lavender also promotes calmness and wellness.  It is also said to help reduce stress, anxiety, and possibly mild pain.  The vision of lavender fields always catches the eye and lifts the spirit.


There is nothing in the world like the smell of the first raindrops on a hot, dusty summer’s afternoon.  It reminds of carefree childhoods when the complexity of the adult world was a distant reality. 


The smell of freshly home-baked bread is a clear favourite for many of us.  Add some plastered real butter and some home-made jam, you have a combination that has the power to make everything all right in our world again. 


The smell of the sea is salty, unique and reminds of holidays with family.  It goes hand in hand with long summer days, water lapping over sand-covered feet and sun-kissed noses.  The mass of always-moving water brings calm to our souls.  There is something magnetic about watching the waves as they form and crash with wild abandonment against the shoreline.


Onion rings, gently frying in a pan always reminds of our childhood homes.  It is a smell that brings memories of cooked dinners, lingering around the dinner table and feeling safe.  Waking up to the wafting flavour on a Sunday morning, you just know that lunch is going to be extra special.  It is said that if you want to sell your house, gently fry some onions and hour before showtime.  Apparently, the smell helps with creating that homely feeling, making potential buyers more interested in your property.


There is something nostalgic about the musty odour of old books found at a market or dusty bookstore.  Smelling an old book is reminiscent of working by candlelight long after the world fell asleep, a bent figure over an old-fashioned typewriter, eager to tell his story.  Mason Cooley once said:  Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.

So, next time you’re out and about, take the time to smell the different fragrances in the air.  Let your imagination go on a journey and create new sensory memories.

Make me a fragrance that smells like love ~ Christian Dior