Why does rain have such a distinctive smell? (Thinkstock)
Why does rain have such a distinctive smell?
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You asked us, why does rain have such a distinctive smell?
 
Although a rainstorm drums up all kinds of different odors, three are common the world round.
 
You know that sweet fresh smell that rolls in on the wind right before a storm? That's ozone you're sniffing, a form of oxygen created by lightning that floats down from much higher altitudes. Way up in the atmosphere, ozone protects our planet from the sun's harmful rays, but down at ground level, harmful concentrations of the gas create things like smog.
 
But let's get back to the question.
 
After rain starts to fall, another smell wafts up. Petrichor hits our noses when plant oils get displaced by rain and are carried into the air.
 
And last but not least, that damp, musky smell after a storm passes is the smell of geosmin, an organic compound created by bacteria in soil.
 
Although there have been many attempts, no one's been able to bottle the perfectly heady smell of rain just yet, so the next time a good summer storm rolls in, take the time to drink in those sweet, elusive scents.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why hasn't anyone been able to bottle the smell of rain yet?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (25)
  • drewh-lam
    3/11/2016 - 10:48 a.m.

    I kind of like the smell of the odor that rolls in before a storm and I think that it is interesting that we really don't think about it much where the odor is coming from right away and we think its something different then what you think it is right away but later on when the storm comes you know why you smelled the odor at that time.

  • emmac-lam
    3/11/2016 - 10:55 a.m.

    Who knew rain smells could be complicated? Why are plant oils getting displaced by rain?

  • shaer-lam
    3/11/2016 - 10:57 a.m.

    These facts are surprising to me because I honestly thought it was just what was being carried in the rain or the smell of wet dirt. The act of bottling up the smell of rain would be quite difficult because you would need to collect the bacteria in the soil that creates the after-rain smell, the scent that the ozone carries and the petrichor from plant oils mixed with rain.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    3/15/2016 - 01:13 p.m.

    The smell of rains is mostly caused by gases so that is why it is really hard for anybody to capture it.

  • hannahs1-pit
    3/15/2016 - 01:31 p.m.

    Bacteria in the ground

    Making delightful smells

    Rain all around

  • trevora-pit
    3/15/2016 - 01:44 p.m.

    The reason no one has been able to bottle the smell of rain is because they can not produce these gases unless there is a rain storm. They cannot make a rain storm so they can not make the gases. They would have to create there own rainstorm to make this happen but, this is impossible. Here is one of the reasons they need a rainstorm to bottle it. "Petrichor hits are noses when the plant oils get displaced by the rain and are carried in the air."

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    3/15/2016 - 05:50 p.m.

    I love the smell of rain. I wish someone somewhere could bottle it up. I would drown myself in it if they would.

  • laurap-ver
    3/18/2016 - 09:10 a.m.

    Most likely because nobody has really found a certain smell that matches everything at once, (before + after storm smells). Most people know the smells, and some people know exactly why the smells come up when there's rain. We haven't been really able to "bottle up" the smell because it's so unique and nothing else can really be described in the same way.

  • masons1-pro
    3/18/2016 - 11:28 a.m.

    Because the smll of rain radiates off of plant oils.

  • rhondrag2-pay
    3/28/2016 - 07:56 a.m.

    No one has been able to bottle the smell of rain because rainstorms create all kinds of odor, whether elusive or a fresh sweet smell, the odor tends to differ. As rain falls a form of oxygen is created by lighting that floats from much higher altitudes;this rain is coming from the ozone layer. Also rain can even smell geosmin, which is an organic compound created by bacteria in the soil.

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