Have you ever caught a whiff of an errant splash of gasoline at the gas station? You may be too proud to admit it, but did you enjoy the smell as that pungent, almost sweet, chemical odour tickled your olfactory bulb?
Gasoline is a chemical cocktail comprised of many ingredients, including lubricants, anti-rust agents and hundreds of chemical compounds known as hydrocarbons. Of all these compounds, benzene is responsible for gasoline’s gassy smell. Benzene has a naturally sweet smell that most noses are particularly sensitive to.
Scientists theorize that gasoline can trigger fond memories such as a happy childhood of summer road trips, going out in the motorboat, or spending time in the garage as dad worked on the car. A second theory on why people find the smell of gasoline pleasant is because it can also activate the mesolimbic pathway and when inhaled can have a physical effect which results in a temporary, euphoric feeling.