Have you ever heard anyone say they can smell the rain? Perhaps you’ve wondered how that was even possible, and maybe you thought it was just something people said to pass the time.
I’ll be the first one to admit that after the rain, there is a fresh smell that is undeniable. When the rain is coming in our direction, however, is there something that can be detected through the nose?
As it turns out, if you were ever somebody who said they could smell the rain, you may have been telling the truth.
Interestingly, there is a name for the scent that hangs in the air after the rain comes down hard and heavy. It is ‘petrichor.’
This word, which originates from the Greeks, depicted a substance that flowed through the blood vessels of Greek gods. Mineralogists eventually adopted the phrase and started using it.
This particular scent comes from soil bacteria, which release geosmin into the air. We are able to smell that chemical when it is released.
The scent becomes strong enough because when it rains, the raindrops flatten out as they hit the ground. Pockets of air become trapped in the soil and as they bubble up, the chemicals are released into the air, including geosmin.
There may also be another scent that is out there, and that is ozone. This does have a distinctive smell, and it is slightly different than that of Petrichor.
When somebody says they can smell the rain coming, it is likely that they are picking up on pockets of ozone gas that are pushed from the sky down to our level.
Since the ozone is at our level, our nostrils are able to pick up the scent and it seems as if you are actually smelling the rain coming.