The warm weather is finally here, and we’ve just gathered together some sunshiny scents for our Summer Candle collection. This got us talking about our favourite summer smells, and the happy-making effect they have on us.
Here are a few real classic summertime scents – and a bit of the science behind them.
The smell of the sea
For many of us, the summer is synonymous with seaside holidays or days out on the beach. That salty, slightly seaweedy smell of the sea is fresh and uplifting, and transports you straight back to a breezy clifftop or ozoney rock pool.
That energising smell actually comes from dimethyl sulfide (DMS), a compound released by dying plankton (nice). Its scent attracts birds, who can then feast on the fish who are nibbling at the plankton. We don’t mind what creates that seaside smell as we absolutely love it; and our Rock Salt & Driftwood candle is our summertime favourite.
Walking through a rose garden in the height of summer is a fragrant and heady experience. The smell of warm sun on rose petals is perfumed and sweet, and our English Rose candle lets you enjoy this glorious scent all year.
It’s not surprising that the rose smells so good, as it works really hard to achieve its scent – over 300 chemicals go into producing that gorgeous aroma. Their scent is at its strongest when the bloom is ready to be pollinated – so you’ll notice that they smell more when they’re half open. Also, don’t assume that a rose will smell like, well, a rose. Over 20% of rose species are scentless.
Unless you really do live in the middle of nowhere, at some point during the summer your appetite will be driven to distraction by the smell of a neighbour’s barbie. Next thing you know, you’ll be heading off to the nearest market on a hunt for sausages and cold beer.
That smell of smoke and charring food is irresistible to many. This could be because the primitive side of our brains is responding to the combination of meat and fire. Basically, it’s taking us back to our caves, and the satisfaction of feeding our tribe with today’s hunt. So when we rush out to buy burgers it’s simply our culinary DNA kicking in.
Freshly cut grass
Apologies to those of us who experience hayfever! The smell of freshly cut grass drifts through the classroom window, promising break-times scampering on the playing field. Mowers are the soundtrack of summer Sundays in villages and suburbs across the country. The scent, like the smell of the sea, is fresh and invigorating.
The smell is actually – and we’re sorry to tell you this – the distress signals sent out by plants in danger. Your lawn, not at all convinced that it wants to be trimmed, emits “green leaf volatiles” which release oxygenated hydrocarbons. So, that’s what causes that gorgeous “green” smell: terrified grass.
Along with rock pools, warm sand and strawberry ice cream, sun block or sunscreen is one of those real evocative smells of childhood summers. Summer isn’t really here until we all smell slightly coconutty.
We love it because it takes us back to good times, to warm days outdoors and holidays in warmer climates. As we’ve discussed before, smell is closely linked to memory; and as most of our holiday associations are positive, this is a much-loved smell.
This is a smell so distinctive, so loved, that it actually has its own word. “Petrichor” means that smell of rain on wet plants after a long, hot spell of weather. It’s that lovely, fresh feel you get after a summer rainstorm, when the air’s been cleared and there’s a gentle background drip from the leaves.
The word comes from the Greek meaning “water that flows over stone from the veins of the gods” (it’s better in Greek). Sorry to rain on the parade again: the beautiful scent is caused by bacteria that produces a molecule called geosmin. When those much-needed raindrops land on the ground, geosmin is released into the air. Humans seem to love the smell, and it’s actually used in perfumes.
Honourable mentions also go to hot tar, paddling pool plastic and seaside fish-n-chips! We can’t promise to recreate all these fragrances in our candles (the world’s not ready for a Charred Burger or Sun Block scented candle). However, our lovely Summer Collection certainly picks up on some of these evocative warm-weather scents.