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The Power of Scent

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

It was a spring day back in the early nineties. Early spring enough for there still to be snow but late enough for there to be patches of open ground. You know, that time of year when the cool of the snow comes up from the ground and mixes with the warm air from the spring sun. That magical combination that summons a beautiful scent not experienced all winter. A little Lindsay said, with feeling,

"Mommy, can you smell the dirt?"

It might sound weird, but dirt is my favorite smell. That first earthy scent in the spring when the snow melts and the air warms. The smell of the soil when it is turned up before you plant your garden. When the ground is dug up and pushed around by an excavator during a big project.

Yes, that smell. I love that smell.

A darn close second for me is the barn smell. The mix of hay, silage, sawdust, manure, and cow breath. Kind of like what you experience at the fair in the cow barns, but a little less sawdust.

A little Lindsay with her "potato road."

The list of favorite scents that people love is endless. I'll just rattle off a short list here of the common ones that come to mind: fresh cut grass, the soft head of a newborn, flowers, freshly baked bread, the ocean breeze, drying hay, Christmas trees, freshly fallen leaves, bonfires, freshly cut wood, etc. There's a good chance that when you think about each one of these scents a certain life experience or picture of something specific comes to mind. That's the power of scent.

Scent has a powerful impact on our life experience that is easy to overlook. Scent can conjure up memories, make us feel at comfortable and at ease, or inspire us. For example, I'm sure each one of my cousins can remember the smell of our grandmother's kitchen - warm coffee, something just baked in the oven, and love. There is nothing that puts you at ease quite like the familiar smell of your own home and stomping grounds. Smells can also make us happy or bring out various emotions and feelings.

When I travel I really notice scents. Not just the scents I experience in the new place I am visiting, but also all the different soap smells! Call me a soap snob, but around day five of traveling I start to really notice the mixing of soap smells from the bathroom rest stops, hotels, or friend's houses I am visiting. Do you ever look forward to getting back home so you can start smelling like yourself again? I sure do! (That's why I like to bring my own soap when I travel!)

A spring soap copying a favorite spring flower.

People love scents so much that attempts are made to capture these smells into candles, soap, and lotions. Sometimes this is accomplished very successfully, and other times it is a complete fail. You know what I'm talking about - we've all smelled all the candles in the store and oohed at some and made a face at others.

Scents in these products are brought about either by fragrance oils or essential oils. Fragrance oils are chemically derived while essential oils are extracted from plants. Fragrance oils are often very potent and can copy almost any scent. Essential oils are more limited in achieving a specific exotic scent, but because there are so many essential oils that can be blended in various possibilities, almost an endless number of scents can be produced.

Here at The Sudsy Cow, we take scent seriously. Something special about our soap bars is that while they smell great, the smell is never overpowering. The smell may linger on your hands for a little while, but it's hardly enough to notice or bother you the rest of the day. I now exclusively use essential oils in my soap, so you never have to worry about harmful chemicals in these bars. The few times I used fragrance oils I noticed those bars don't sell as well; it's as if our noses have a preference for the more natural smells.

As we approach the Christmas holiday, I hope you take some extra time to breathe in deep and notice the smells around you. The smells of the food being made, the spice and balsam scents, the smells of the special people around you. Soak it up - it's all part of the experience of the season, and your life experience. Scent is something God made for us to enjoy. Let's enjoy them to the fullest!

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