The Perfume That Smells Like Rain

Do you love the smell that permeates the air after rain hits the parched ground? It’s know as “petrichor” — a pleasant cocktail of fragrant chemical compounds, some produced by plants and others produced by bacteria that live on the soil. When the bacteria dies, they release a compound called “geosmin,” to which the human nose is extremely sensitive. The geosmin can’t get into the air until the first drops of rain splatter on the ground. The small town of Kannauj in India has been capturing this smell in a bottle so that it can be worn like a perfume. Each morning, local farmers pick a variety of flowers such as rose, jasmine, lotus, ginger, lily and gardenia, and deliver them to 200 perfume distilleries around the city. The flowers are mixed with water and heated in large copper vats. The aromatic steam is then transferred via bamboo pipes to a receptacle containing sandalwood oil, which acts as a base for the perfume. The perfume is then transferred into camel-skin bottles that are porous enough to allow the excess water to evaporate, trapping the fragrance and oil inside. Bottles of the perfume sell for $20 and can be ordered online here.