After the scorching heat of summer, when we get drenched in the first shower of rain, we feel it like a blessing from the heaven. Rain is one of the most beautiful gifts bestowed on us by nature. The soil is bathed with the prolonged rain, and it starts spreading an aroma of peace, that earthy “fresh rain” smell. It’s nostalgic) for most of us, but what is it exactly? What’s that enduring smell of soil called?
Well, science has the answer. It’s ‘Petrichor’. The smell that makes us poetic and romantic seems to come from rain striking fresh soil.
‘Petrichor’ is the soothing, earthy, and wonderfully pleasant smell of rain falling on dry ground. The term is derived from the ancient Greek words ‘petra,’ which means ‘stone,’ and ‘ichor,’ which is the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods. It was coined by scientists Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Thomas in their 1964 article “Nature of Argillaceous Odour”, published in the journal Nature.
Some plants secrete oils during dry periods, and when it rains, these oils are released into the air. The second reaction that creates petrichor occurs when chemicals produced by soil-dwelling bacteria known as actinomycetes are released. These aromatic compounds combine to create the pleasant petrichor scent when rain hits the ground.
The most important ingredient in producing the smell of petrichor is Geosmin. It is produced by bacteria that live in the soil and break down whatever dead stuff happens to fall to the earth. Rain plus dirt equals Geosmin, which creates that telltale fresh rain smell.
Rain is always like a blessing to us. And the smell of ‘Petrichor’ is like a healing to our painful past. Whenever we smell it, we breathe a little more to inhale the pleasant smell of rain drenched soil, and removes all the dirt off. So, ‘Petrichor’ is not only a smell, it’s our hope of new beginning, too.