Lockdown: If you live away from family you probably miss them - women on scents that 'smell like home'

Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
Illustration. Photo by Getty Images

Now that we're on lockdown, it's only natural that some of us will start to miss loved ones who are not living with us.

Nowadays keeping memories means using our digital gadgets to capture moments and finding alternative means to perform sentimental activities on online platforms.

Despite technological advancement, we are still far from inventing a machine or app that stores memories that include smell and touch sensations.

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When it comes to scent memories, a study titled, Product Scent and Memoryconfirms that the ability to recognise scents previously smelled decays very little over time, with minimal reductions in recognition accuracy from seconds to months after exposure.

Scent memories create special bonds with our past experiences, with relationships, places, a certain age and products. Therefore, the most efficient method to recall past memories is by exploring all the scents that hold the pieces together.

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A person’s childhood is filled with scent memories. For instance, visiting gran’s house and the smell of her famous curry chicken can evoke long-forgotten events.

Scent memory also subconsciously triggers particular emotions.

Scents that are associated with certain memories are very personal; the smell of a chicken curry will most likely invoke different emotions based on who the perceiver is.

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We asked women to share scents that bring back unique memories from their childhood:

“The smell of Joko tea with powder milk reminds me of my late grandmother, as that is how she would have her tea. The smell of clothes being ironed reminds me of Primary school on Tuesdays, every time I arrived home, I would find our clothes being ironed. Cinnamon reminds me of the cough syrup, One Day Flu and the NO.7 coal stove reminds me of winter at my grandmother's in Waterval Boven, Mpumalanga.” - Mpumi


"The smell of pumpkin reminds me of coming back from Church to a feast made by my grandfather, it was ordinary pumpkin, but gosh, it tasted and smelled different. Till this very day, the smell reminds me of Amersfort, Mpumalanga and definitely my late grandmother.” - Nhlanhla


“I’m currently an expat in China and sometimes the humidity and scent outside reminds me of every time I used to visit my late grandmother in Embalenhle, Mpumalanga. The township is close to the Sasol coal mine.” - Natasha


“The scent of Gentle Magic skin care lotion reminds me of my late mother. It was one of her favourite skin care brands. It is nostalgic because she used to apply it before she bathed us while listening to the late Brenda Fassie's music. We always knew that it was bath time from the scent and music, it wasn’t necessarily our favourite time of the day.” - Hlonepho


“The scent of curry leaves reminds me of Sunday food which meant eating veggies. I hated veggies as a child and I still do.” - Anonymous


Quora users also joined the conversation and shared their memories:

“The scent of burning feathers or hair, reminds me of evenings when my Dad would go down to his work bench in the basement and make arrows. His whole family hunted using bow and arrow, because we were poor it was far less money to simply make arrows than buy them. He would sing tunes while making the arrows, and I could tell he was engrossed and happy.” - Jae


“My grandmother (who naturally used to spoil us) had allergies and a doctor suggested that she use ‘Pears’ bath soap. She used just these for at least 30 years and she was the only one who I knew used that soap and that too on a regular basis. Many years ago, in the middle of a night, I received a call that she had passed away. After feeling down and lonely, I went back to try catching some sleep. I could smell Pears soap on my pillow.” - Sivaram


“The smell of cut wood always brings me back to my childhood, when I would often stay with my grandmothers who owned a sawmill. Those were very happy times, playing among stacks of planks or beams or in the forest nearby, or watching the workers operate mysterious heavy machine” - Michael


“The smell of Avon’s Rich Moisturiser always brings my mother to mind. The smell of wet stone takes me back to my childhood home and the scent of the garden stones & brick walls in the rain.” - Karen


Do you have a scent that reminds you of your childhood? Tell us about it here.

Additional source: Quora

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