Snow has a distinctive aroma that is often associated with winter and nature. It can also be invigorating and refreshing. This fresh scent is one of the reasons why many people love scented candles and fragrances inspired by snow. This article explains what does snow smell like and why it can be so different depending on where you live.
The logical side of your brain might tell you that snow can’t have a smell because it’s just frozen water. But the emotional part of your brain probably disagrees. The answer to what does snow smell like has less to do with odor molecules and more to do with climate.
Air has a distinct smell leading up to a snowstorm because the humidity rises and atmospheric pressure changes. These changes moisten the mucus around olfactory receptors, which can help them detect odors that would otherwise be stifled in cold temperatures. They also activate the trigeminal nerve, which interprets sensations as a sense of smell (like the coolness of mint or the heat of hot peppers). Together, these signals help you perceive a difference in the weather.
The scent of snow can vary based on the location and conditions in which it falls. For example, snow in a forest can absorb the scent of pine trees. Meanwhile, snow in an urban area can take on the odor of exhaust from cars and other pollutants. This enables snow to act as a natural air purifier by removing impurities from the environment.