Why does it smell so good after it rains?

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You’ve just stepped outside after a rainstorm and take in a deep breath of fresh air, it refreshes you, fills you with joy. But what exactly is behind this sweet, fresh, powerfully evocative smell of fresh rain. If you’re like me, you’ve often wondered what exactly produces this scent and if it can be bottled into a spray bottle?

Luckily in 1964, this very train of thought led two Austrian scientist down a road to figure out exactly what causes this scent. The scientist Isabel Joy Bear & R.G Thomas, determined that one of the main causes of this distinctive smell is a blend of oils secreted by some plants during arid periods. When a rainstorm comes after a drought, compounds from the oils, which accumulate over time in dry rocks and soil – are mixed and released into the air. The scientist also observed that the scientist also observed that the oils inhibit seed germination, and speculated that plants produce them to limit competition for scarce water supplies during dry times.

It’s believed that the reason we like this scent so much is tied to our evolution, maybe our distant ancestors who were in caves needed some sort of biological signal to know when rain was coming or when rain had passed. Whatever the reason, I personally hope we don’t lose this evolutionary infatuation with this aroma.

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