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The rain in Spain smells mainly of dimethyl-9-decalol
November 28, 2012 9:48 AM   Subscribe

The smell of earth after rain is called Petrichor, and it is caused by Geosmin, a sesquiterpenoid metabolite with the chemical formula C12H22O. Human sensitivity to geosmin is about 10 parts per trillion. (via)
posted by mrgrimm (95 comments total) 218 users marked this as a favorite

 
Totally kickass. Thanks for this!
posted by Chutzler at 9:51 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe it is the only true aphrodisiac.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:51 AM on November 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


Whoa, cool. I love that smell, and I'd never realized that it was an actual thing. Thanks!
posted by grimmelm at 9:51 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I enjoy that Doctor Who episode even more now.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:55 AM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Huh, I was always told it was dirt being kicked up by the rain. Stupid dad and your wrongness!
posted by Think_Long at 10:00 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Compounds with extremely low thresholds of human sensitivity are cool. Another one is trans-2-nonenal (threshold about 0.1 ppb or 100 parts per trillion), which is responsible for staleness in beer. I've been spoiled by good, fresh homebrew and unfortunately over-attuned to this one.
posted by exogenous at 10:01 AM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pretty much the best smell in the entire world.
posted by elizardbits at 10:03 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


(aside from warm snuffly puppy)
posted by elizardbits at 10:04 AM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can barely detect it. This is because I grew up in the desert in Arizona, where the creosote bush grows. Once you've smelled creosote after rain, nothing else compares.
posted by darksasami at 10:05 AM on November 28, 2012 [14 favorites]


The more you know ===☆
posted by m@f at 10:06 AM on November 28, 2012 [52 favorites]


I thought it was the smell of drowned earthworms.
posted by srboisvert at 10:09 AM on November 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's a perfume store in Brooklyn that sells this smell as a scent you can buy! It's either the Soaked Earth accord from their Earth series or the Rain Storm accord from the Water series, I can't remember which.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:15 AM on November 28, 2012 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I absolutely adore this smell (and thus found it strange that the SD article focused so muchg on its seeming repugnance.) Also, one of my favorite touches in Doctor Who Season 6 is when the Doctor sees this advertisement in a mall.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:16 AM on November 28, 2012


Very poetic. From the StraightDope link:

In fact, nobody really knows what it does or why we’re so sensitive to it, and most scientists, by nature practical folk, decline to speculate. But a scarcity of facts has never bothered me, and in this case we’ve got a sliver of information to go on. A couple UK scientists, wondering how Bactrian camels in the Gobi desert were supposedly able to sniff out water from 50 miles away, proposed that the animals were actually smelling geosmin carried by the wind from oases.

A survival trait so obviously useful to camels would likewise be advantageous to us. Long ago we were mainly nomads wandering in arid regions. It’s easy to imagine a parched band trudging mapless in the desert looking for the next watering hole. Then the breeze picks up, and what do they detect? Had they lacked the appropriate olfactory adaptation, nothing, with possibly disastrous consequences. As it was, if they were fortunate, they might smell the faint odor of moist earth, and with it the promise that they'd live another day.

posted by vacapinta at 10:17 AM on November 28, 2012 [33 favorites]


srboisvert: "I thought it was the smell of drowned earthworms."

It is. The smell is their tiny worm souls going up to worm heaven. Worm souls are small, so that explains why our noses have to be so sensitive to the smell. Well, g'night, champ!
posted by boo_radley at 10:18 AM on November 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


Neat. What about the smell of freshly cut grass?

Preview: The smell of freshly-cut grass is actually a plant distress call so sorry grass. if i had known x(
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:18 AM on November 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


Holy shit. I just read this on wikipedia...

Geosmin is an organic compound with a distinct earthy flavor and aroma, and is responsible for the earthy taste of beets

I always thought beets tasted like rain!
posted by orme at 10:21 AM on November 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


Beets taste of ennui and existential darkness.
posted by elizardbits at 10:29 AM on November 28, 2012 [48 favorites]


and the shattered dreams of the proletariat
posted by elizardbits at 10:29 AM on November 28, 2012 [23 favorites]


Geosmin is an organic compound with a distinct earthy flavor and aroma, and is responsible for the earthy taste of beets

I always thought beets tasted like rain!


I always thought they tasted like dirt. I was right!
posted by Foosnark at 10:31 AM on November 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


orme: "Geosmin is an organic compound with a distinct earthy flavor and aroma, and is responsible for the earthy taste of beets

I always thought beets tasted like rain!
"

I've got two friends who swear beets taste like dirt. Me, I guess I love dirt.
posted by jgaiser at 10:34 AM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Me too. I love dirt, rain, and long walks in the existential beetness.
posted by orme at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2012 [25 favorites]


petra is rock (like Peter, the rock upon which The Church is built), and ichor the fluid that fills the veins of the gods, as opposed to the blood of mortal men.

petrichor, the blood of the Earth.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2012 [37 favorites]


Or alternatively, "blood from a stone."
posted by Navelgazer at 10:47 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


orme: "Holy shit. I just read this on wikipedia...

Geosmin is an organic compound with a distinct earthy flavor and aroma, and is responsible for the earthy taste of beets

I always thought beets tasted like rain!
"

Strange, I always thought water tasted like rain.
posted by symbioid at 10:47 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


elizardbits: "and the shattered dreams of the proletariat"

Beeten down by the Invisible Hand of the Bourgeoisie.
posted by symbioid at 10:47 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Greg Nog: "There's a perfume store in Brooklyn that sells this smell as a scent you can buy! It's either the Soaked Earth accord from their Earth series or the Rain Storm accord from the Water series, I can't remember which."

I have emailed them to find out, because this is something I need in my life.
posted by komara at 10:49 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fantastic post. Sulphur and especially Selenium compounds have a special place in the human olfactory system. The fantastic In the Pipeline has you covered for all your chemical smell disaster-porn needs!

From General organosulfur compounds: a bestiary
"Ethanethiol: the prototype of the class. All the basic sulfur-stink notes - skunky and intestinal. Very volatile, too, which really gives it a quick wallop, but at least it doesn't stay around forever."
"Cyclopropanethiol: not sure if you can buy this, but we made it in my lab a few years ago. Smells like a fire in a garlic warehouse - very sharp and penetrating. Notably different from its acyclic brethren."

From "Things I won't work with - Selenophenol"
"Chemically, repugnant metallic", "Organoselenium comounds smell like a robot farted."

From "Thioacetone"
"This reaction produced 'an offensive smell which spread rapidly over a great area of the town causing fainting, vomiting and a panic evacuation'. An 1890 report from the Whitehall Soap Works in Leeds refers to the odor as "fearful", and if you could smell anything through the ambient conditions in a Leeds soap factory in 1890, it must have been."

From Carbon diselenide (& tellurium compounds)
"You neglected to mention the granddaddy of them all, one row down: tellurium. Inhalation of even trace amounts causes "tellurium breath", which is worse than garlic breath and lasts for months."


Some more wonders

From "t-Butyl isocyanide"
"Godzillas socks, Abominable Snowman's armpit,my eyeglasses fogged up by a Komodo dragon with stomach trouble"
posted by lalochezia at 10:53 AM on November 28, 2012 [50 favorites]


This is going to just make me want to buy more cbihateperfume perfume. And it's soaked earth, FYI, and it's amazing and goes perfect with "old leather" (though I think I prefer "in the library" just a little bit more for its wonderful warm moldiness.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:53 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


For a certain demographic cohort, a sudden rain is also associated with a liking for Piña Coladas.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:54 AM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


The first time I ever tasted Camembert, I was struck by how it tasted a bit like the scent of a freshly dug hole in the backyard in the days when a kid could dig a deep hole out behind the shed just to hide from the whole whirling calamity of the world and read and read and read until the day faded into blue twilight.

I cut a wedge out of a fresh wheel of Camembert the other day, forced myself to endure the intolerable agony of watching it resting there on the cutting board, slow-w-w-wly warming up to room temperature, and finally dug in, and it is still the deep hole out behind the shed and a brief interlude away from the whole whirling calamity of all things, tinged with the tone and tenor of that lump of raw, moist red clay around which the rest of me is formed.
posted by sonascope at 10:54 AM on November 28, 2012 [22 favorites]


The perfume store in Brooklyn referenced above sells one scent I mix into an aftershave that is supposed to smell like the earth, (their flowery descriptions make it sound wonderful, and it does remind me of my childhood, playing in the Midwestern woods). I asked my wife what it smelled like, and she said, "Dirt." Perfect!

Their "In the Library" scent (notes of leather, tobacco etc.) is pretty nice, too. The one that's supposed to smell like snow? I don't know if my nose has that much imagination. It smells like perfume, to me.
posted by kozad at 11:03 AM on November 28, 2012


OK, now someone give me the name for that unique sound you hear that tells you the cars outside are driving on wet streets (meaning, it's raining).
posted by kinsey at 11:07 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The snow one! I just ordered that a month ago and have been so disappointed. I wanted something that smelled like fresh cold and oxygen and a hint of dirt and it doesn't.

Which is weird because their winter 1972 one actually does smell as described--like wet mittens on a radiator (yum).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:08 AM on November 28, 2012


Okay, good, I'll be staying right around the corner from cbihateperfume in two weeks, so I'll know how to spend my days.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:16 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since everyone is loving on CB I Hate Perfume, let me recommend an amazing cologne for an Xmas gift: 2nd (Alan) Cumming

As someone who can't stand the euro-sweet colognes and wants something different than old musk, this is an amazing cologne in the vein of their "In the Library" room scent. It smells like... soft leather, warm on a rainy day, Grandpa's army photo.

Like how you imagine James Bond smells.
posted by lubujackson at 11:17 AM on November 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


I believe it is the only true aphrodisiac.

You're doing it wrong.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:18 AM on November 28, 2012


Have ordered some soaked earth. Fingers crossed. Hoping this will get me snuggle-mauled by the lovely Mrs. Guy.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:19 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a fantastic post! It made my day (which has only just begun, though). This is why we can have nice things. And I want these nice things - perfumes of earth after rain.. and yes, of freshly cut grass (sorry, grass) - so if someone could tell me who in Sydney will take my money, that would be the only thing to make my day better.
posted by vidur at 11:19 AM on November 28, 2012


Like how you imagine James Bond smells.

Cordite, martini and sexually-exhausted bond girl?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:20 AM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Which is weird because their winter 1972 one actually does smell as described--like wet mittens on a radiator

The Greenbriar 1968 smell was amazing to me, because it had the exact scent of a library that was in this New Hampshire summer school I attended in 1996. Which obviously wasn't what the perfumer was trying to capture, but god damn is it powerfully evocative for me.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:21 AM on November 28, 2012


Under my totalitarian dictatorship all perfumes and colognes will, by law, only be sold with an unbreakable and unalterable metered dosage dispenser such that all problems with people wearing far too much scent will be solved. Any attempt to bypass such regulations will be met with swift and public executions.


my totalitarian dictatorship is still a work in progress
posted by elizardbits at 11:23 AM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


petra is rock (like Peter, the rock upon which The Church is built), and ichor the fluid that fills the veins of the gods, as opposed to the blood of mortal men.

petrichor, the blood of the Earth.


mods, I read this comment and Slayer immediately kicked down the door to my office and played the entirety of Reign In Blood at maximum volume. possible bug?
posted by Greg Nog at 11:24 AM on November 28, 2012 [22 favorites]


I've always thought of it as the smell of drought rather than the smell of rain due to the need for a dry spell first to save up the smell, so to speak.
posted by kersplunk at 11:28 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


mods, I read this comment and Slayer immediately kicked down the door to my office and played the entirety of Reign In Blood at maximum volume. possible bug?

CLEARLY a feature.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:30 AM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


OK, now someone give me the name for that unique sound you hear that tells you the cars outside are driving on wet streets

I think the word for that is 'welsh.' E.g. out my window, out in the rain, tides of car tires welsh across the wash swept road in waves.

And if that isn't the word for that, it should be.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:31 AM on November 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


kozad, which perfume was that (the first one you mentioned)?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:41 AM on November 28, 2012


If you get a chance to go into that perfume store, set yourself a budget first. Somewhere around 120 or so...
posted by jonbro at 11:58 AM on November 28, 2012


huh, never associated it with earth. Always thought it was asphalt/road stuff...or maybe that is a different thing.
posted by juv3nal at 12:02 PM on November 28, 2012


I have emailed them to find out, because this is something I need in my life.

Let me know what you find out because reasons.

I had a cheesemonger friend (surely one of you knows Gordon?) who came and visited from the West Coast and who was on a VT cheese tour. He had extra cheese that he could not bring back to CA (in the cooler he always travels with for such purposes) and left me with a few ash rind cheese which, on the one hand, not really my thing, but I was attracted to their basement-y smell which probably had something to do with this.
posted by jessamyn at 12:06 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well Meta you sold some perfume today. So glad to learn about this place.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 12:13 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


previously (where I discover the term)
posted by MikeKD at 12:19 PM on November 28, 2012


I love beets.
posted by Artw at 12:35 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


An acquaintance of mine created a drink to celebrate petrichor and Dr. Who.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:46 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ha! Gordon is a friend of friends; he and I know of each other but haven't met, for some reason.

On of the things I miss about working in cheese is the constant olfactory envelopment. Though I don't miss the smell a very ripe Taleggio would leave on my hands, even through gloves.
posted by rtha at 12:50 PM on November 28, 2012


I've been meaning to buy some perfume from CBIhateperfume for a long time now, but have kept putting it off because I'd have to order online without a chance to smell it first. (Also, pricey!) Most perfumes at the perfume counter smell really samey to me and have an alcohol-y undercurrent that I hate. But this thread is seriously making me want to go on a shopping spree on that website for petrichor perfume. I wonder how many sales the guy is going to get from this post.
posted by yasaman at 1:03 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


You might be enjoying the smell, but the taste leaves a lot to be desired.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:06 PM on November 28, 2012


fyi, yasaman, CB's water perfumes contain no alcohol and I'd guess the accords don't either. (And perfumes from the perfume counter they ain't, it's true.)
posted by clavicle at 1:09 PM on November 28, 2012


CB's perfumes are as far away from the perfume counter smellies as handcrafted artisan cheese is from Velveeta. Try Surrender To Chance for samples.
posted by matildaben at 1:18 PM on November 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sadly, I am not sufficiently well-versed in dirt-smelling to tell wet from dry, so I really don't know what y'all are on about.

The smell of air after a rain, though, I could go for (i.e. the smell of toxic ground-level ozone, minus the dead worms and wet dog shit) but too much of that and you'd just smell like a stinky old marigold.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:22 PM on November 28, 2012


clavicle, that's why I'd love to try his perfumes. Apparently he doesn't use alcohol at all, which is a big selling point for me.
posted by yasaman at 1:22 PM on November 28, 2012


I also have the ozone association about smells after rain. Didn't think that there was a separate fragrance to wet earth but when you think about it, yeah, it is in fact something distinct. The more you know...
posted by deo rei at 1:33 PM on November 28, 2012


NOW I MUST KNOW: What was the deal with the Petrichor Perfume in Dr. Who? Was it just a massive red herring?
posted by leotrotsky at 2:03 PM on November 28, 2012


Man, I absolutely love it when science takes something I already think is pretty great and makes it even more awesome. Thanks for posting this!

The first time I ever tasted Camembert, I was struck by how it tasted a bit like the scent of a freshly dug hole in the backyard in the days when a kid could dig a deep hole out behind the shed just to hide from the whole whirling calamity of the world and read and read and read until the day faded into blue twilight.

God damn, but I love me some Camembert. And beets! Now I'm going to have to make some delicious Camembert and beet food-thing and eat it outside after it rains.
posted by cellar door at 2:03 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I bought a vial of Soaked Earth from I Hate Perfume last Christmas and still knock back a whiff of it in the mornings to wake me up, like smelling salts.
posted by painquale at 2:05 PM on November 28, 2012


There's a perfume store in Brooklyn that sells this smell as a scent you can buy!

Oh my goodness.

Beets taste of ennui and existential darkness.

And the warm, sweet, wet earth of the motherland! So, so delicious.

The lurid purple colour of one's shit the following day is always a bit alarming, though. "Aaargh, I'm dying of bum cancer! Oh, no, it's okay, we had beetroot for tea."
posted by jack_mo at 2:07 PM on November 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


Question for those of you that do have this Soaked Earth perfume - how much of it smells like ... well, like perfume? Is it strictly and completely this Soaked Earth scent, or are there floral components, or traditional perfume smells, or what?

I'm allergic to most perfumes but I desperately want this and I'm hoping it's not the kind of thing that would set me off.
posted by komara at 2:12 PM on November 28, 2012


It smells 0 like perfume. It smells exactly like muddy ground. Be warned that CB perfumes fade quickly--or rather, some people perceive them to fade quickly. They don't have the sticking power of other perfumes, but I find that the smell lingers on your body the way the smell of walking through the woods might on your clothes hours later. They're perfumes you put on for yourself, not other people.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:14 PM on November 28, 2012


Just the soaked earth scent! All the accords are just single scents, and then the perfumes use the smells to make, like, actual perfumes.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:15 PM on November 28, 2012


Before my nose decided that everything smells like headaches, I had a bottle of Demeter Earth and it did smell just exactly like very nice damp soil. The CB I hate perfume guy is the Demeter guy, so if you know those scents, they're probably the same.
posted by thylacinthine at 2:19 PM on November 28, 2012


petrichor, the blood of the Earth.

Do you mean oil?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:20 PM on November 28, 2012


Being away from land really heightens your sensitivity. When I was 19, I'd been out on Lake Erie for a couple of weeks and got hit by the late spring scent of the earth as we approached Port Nowhere, Ontario. I wanted to jump out and have sex with the ground.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:26 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


NOW I MUST KNOW: What was the deal with the Petrichor Perfume in Dr. Who? Was it just a massive red herring?

I took it to be nothing more or less than evidence of Amy's success two years after the Doctor had dropped them off. The name/slogan showing that she wasn't simply the model for the ad, but that it was her own design/product.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:27 PM on November 28, 2012


Demeter (referenced in one of the links) has two scents, the more famous being "Dirt," which to me smells a little too mildewy (I'd call it "Musty Basement"), and "Earthworm," which smells great to me, like freshly turned soil.
posted by rikschell at 2:30 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was just about to say what thylacinthine said - CB was the Demeter guy before he left to Hate Perfume. Demeter makes a lot of dirt/rain/snow/thunderstorm fragrances that are lovely and have this sort of smell. Not long-lasting, but they're also inexpensive. (Which reminds me: I've wanted a bottle of Demeter Holy Water. Maybe I'll get some as a Christmas present to myself.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:31 PM on November 28, 2012


In fact, nobody really knows what it does or why we’re so sensitive to it, and most scientists, by nature practical folk, decline to speculate. But a scarcity of facts has never bothered me, and in this case we’ve got a sliver of information to go on. A couple UK scientists, wondering how Bactrian camels in the Gobi desert were supposedly able to sniff out water from 50 miles away, proposed that the animals were actually smelling geosmin carried by the wind from oases.

A survival trait so obviously useful to camels would likewise be advantageous to us. Long ago we were mainly nomads wandering in arid regions. It’s easy to imagine a parched band trudging mapless in the desert looking for the next watering hole. Then the breeze picks up, and what do they detect? Had they lacked the appropriate olfactory adaptation, nothing, with possibly disastrous consequences. As it was, if they were fortunate, they might smell the faint odor of moist earth, and with it the promise that they'd live another day.


Actinomycetes, the soil bacteria which are the source of many of our antibiotics, also produce geosmin, as do, apparently, their close relatives the mycobacteria, which include the bacteria which cause tuberculosis and leprosy.

Anytime such smell-blind primates as us can detect odors in extremely low concentrations I'm inclined to look around for trouble (hydrogen sulfide as almost is toxic as hydrogen cyanide, for example, and hydrogen selenide is much more toxic than that), so I'd be inclined to go with a mycobacterium infection detection option if I could find a description of the smell of tuberculosis beyond that it has one, or of leprosy other than that it has an extremely penetrating and distinctive one, or an association of either with beets, but I wasn't able to.

Speaking of beets, actinomycetes are nitrogen fixers and have symbiotic associations with many plants, such as red alder and myrtles, and I wonder whether the geosmin of beets means they do that too.
posted by jamjam at 2:49 PM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, how many bands called Petrichor have formed since the spring of 2011, and what do they sound like?
posted by Grangousier at 2:54 PM on November 28, 2012


So what's the smell that humans detect before it rains? The one that lets you know rain is coming?
posted by magstheaxe at 3:10 PM on November 28, 2012


I could swear the smell before it rains only happens near tar, such as at parking lots and by roads.
posted by jwells at 3:18 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ozone?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:20 PM on November 28, 2012


I would love to splash out for one (or several) of these I Hate Perfume scents, but I have a scent allergy that has been known to go off at dryer sheets, pet shampoo, deodorant, and air fresheners.

Though, if he made something that combined mangrove trees, saltwater, Pleasant Damp Dog, and icy bottled water, I'd buy a dozen and to hell with the migrainey consequences.
posted by cmyk at 3:27 PM on November 28, 2012


According to Scientific American, ozone is indeed the smell of approaching rain. An interesting quote from that article:

"But do these smells send meaningful messages to humans? Anthropologist Diana Young at the University of Queensland has studied the traditions of aboriginal people in Australia's Western Desert. There, the first rains before wet wintry and summer months are an important event, mingling the sweet odors of damp gum leaf oils, eucalyptus, animal waste and dust. The rains bring game such as kangaroo and emu, quench thirst and transform the red desert into a verdant landscape. Young says that to these people the smell of rain is linked to the color green, a connection she calls "cultural synesthesia." In fact, many of these Aboriginal peoples manufacture their own perfume with plant and animal fats and rub it onto their bodies, a symbolic connection of body and landscape. The odor is believed to be protective and cleansing, linking present generations to their ancestors."

Huh, I never would have thought of my overwhelming association of the color gray with the smell of rain as "cultural synesthesia," but that's a really interesting way to put it.
posted by yasaman at 3:38 PM on November 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


You might be enjoying the smell, but the taste leaves a lot to be desired.

Interesting you should say this. The presence of geosmin is one of the big challenges in fresh-water aquaculture - which is much, much better for the environment, but consumers often complain of a "muddy" taste to their tilapia, silver perch etc (also catfish).

I read an interesting piece recently about a barramundi farmer who has hit the right ratios of meat to veg and fresh to salt water to effectively cancel out this taste.

I'm certainly conscious of the "muddy" taste of fresh water fish, but it doesn't bother me that much.
posted by smoke at 3:52 PM on November 28, 2012


Geosmin! This was my favorite thing I learned about last year - apparently some people are much more sensitive to it than others, and people who are sensitive to it hate beets! So the beet thing is like the cilantro thing - it's not a single taste that some like and some dislike, but rather there is a real underlying difference in the way it tastes to people.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:42 PM on November 28, 2012


If it is possible to be in love or have a mad crush on a Metafilter post, I may have one here. I know, I know Petrichor, you've already....got someone to go to Prom. I know!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:47 PM on November 28, 2012


Under my totalitarian dictatorship all perfumes and colognes will, by law, only be sold with an unbreakable and unalterable metered dosage dispenser such that all problems with people wearing far too much scent will be solved. Any attempt to bypass such regulations will be met with swift and public executions.


my totalitarian dictatorship is still a work in progress

posted by elizardbits at 11:23 AM on November 28

I will rise up against you, although my heart will so be torn, but I will fight you in the streets and narrow alleys, the rivers and hills.

And on one low day, one sacked with rain and devoured youth, our arms will lock in brutal mutual extinction. Yet the scent carried in a bleak wind will wither your resolve and there we'll remain - bloodied and torn, and repentant of our ways.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:27 PM on November 28, 2012


If someone comes up with a perfume that smells like creosote in the rain they will rule the world.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 6:01 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh hey I can't believe I just thought to bring this up: as long as we're talking about things that are detectible by the human nose in the parts-per-trillion category we should mention 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole aka TCA aka cork taint, that weird musty wet cardboard smell that can happen to even the best of wines that are stoppered with real cork.
posted by komara at 6:47 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fascinating, komara.

From your TCA link:
The primary chemical precursor to TCA is TCP (2,4,6-Trichlorophenol), an anti-microbial agent used in processing wood. Molds (and some suspect bacteria such as Streptomyces[3]) are able to de-toxify TCP by methylating the -OH to -OCH3, which is not toxic. [my emphasis]
Streptomyces are the best known of the actinomycetes which are a primary source of geosmin, as I mentioned above.

If those suspicions are correct, it would be quite a coincidence that actinomycetes would be a source of two structurally very dissimilar compounds which are detectable by human beings at record low concentrations.
posted by jamjam at 7:40 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. I mean, I guess it's nice that there's a name, and a chemical reaction is responsible, and wooo, science and all, but I don't think I really wanted to know all of that. Sometimes I don't mind not knowing the reasons for liking something.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:56 PM on November 28, 2012


What about when the snow starts to melt, and the wind brings you that wonderful melting-snow smell? Is it the same phenomenon? Because it smells different to me. Maybe it's more coldness and less earth?
posted by serena15221 at 8:16 PM on November 28, 2012


jamjam: guess we can go ahead and add Brettanomyces to that list as well. I hadn't thought about brett in a while but it's right there in the same category.
posted by komara at 8:39 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Be warned that CB perfumes fade quickly--or rather, some people perceive them to fade quickly.

Yeah, their room sprays smell delightful, but they are largely useless because the scent dissipates so quickly.
posted by painquale at 8:59 PM on November 28, 2012


>petrichor, the blood of the Earth.

Do you mean oil?


I think lava is the blood of the Earth. Oil is... the sebum of the Earth.
posted by aught at 7:23 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got all excited CB I Hate Perfume after reading about it on MeFi, so I ordered some samples. I don't think I've ever really enjoyed perfume but I do love nice smells. So I was really hopeful.

Unfortunately, with the exception of a fir tree scent (I forget the exact name) that faded after about 2 minutes, all of the CBIHP samples smelled sickly sweet and "perfumey" to me. Couldn't stand them. I was so sad. I dunno what's wrong with my nose...
posted by Cygnet at 7:44 AM on November 29, 2012


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