First snow of the season in New England

Today the first snow of the season fell in New England. It was a surprise: the forecast called for rain. I poked my head outside to see what it smelled like. The cold shock of air in my nose and lungs momentarily halted my sniffing and whiffing until I could get my bearings.

Smell of the first snow of the season in New England

Smelling the first snow of the season in New England

But then I did and discovered another surprise: snow carries more aroma than I thought. The top layer is smoky and sweet, like diesel fuel. Probably car exhaust.

Deeper in I smelled the wind whipping around the crystals carrying so many odors that I couldn’t possibly name them all. I felt like I had my nose stuck out the car window while zipping along at about 40 mph.

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Comments

  1. Yeah, when the cold weather hit I noticed that some more volatile compounds were sticking around for me to smell, or at least staying closer to the ground. Most noticeably, the (what I assume is a) candy factory in the MIT area has been pumping out peppermint flavoring scent and I can only smell it well on the cold days.

    • That’s interesting because technically you detect peppermint in your nose/throat channel, similar to chili. I wonder if the cold air somehow heightens your sensitivity?

  2. Well, “peppermint” is more than just menthol, which is what is detected by the common chemical sense. There are other compounds involved. (I happen to have recently acquired pure menthol crystals, so I can compare the two!)

  3. Wait, you said the nose/throat channel, not the common chemical sense… that seems about right.

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