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What is the smell of snow?

Have you ever stepped outside on a cold winter day and noticed a certain scent in the air? Some people describe this scent as crisp, earthy, or slightly sweet. It’s the smell of snow! In this blog post, we’ll explore the science behind the smell of snow and what causes it.

What Causes the Smell of Snow?

Snow is simply frozen water, which should be odorless. However, the smell of snow comes from the air around us. When the temperature drops, the air becomes drier and less humid. As a result, there are fewer particles in the air to scatter light and absorb odors. This allows our sense of smell to become more sensitive, making it easier to detect the scent of snow.

Another factor that contributes to the smell of snow is the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from soil and trees. These compounds evaporate more readily in cold weather, and the smell can attach to the snowflakes as they fall. Additionally, the compression of snow on the ground can cause the release of gases such as methane, which has a slightly sweet odor.

What Does Snow Smell Like?

The scent of snow is difficult to describe and can vary depending on the location. Some people describe the smell of snow as crisp and clean, while others say it has a slightly floral or sweet scent. Still, others describe it as earthy or musky. Some people may not even notice a distinct smell of snow at all.

The specific odor of snow may also vary depending on the local climate and environment. For example, in urban areas, snow may smell like car exhaust or pollution. In forested areas, snow may smell like pine or cedar. The scent of snow may also change depending on the time of day or weather conditions.

Why Do Some People Love the Smell of Snow?

Despite the fact that snow is simply frozen water, many people find the smell of snow to be soothing and comforting. This may be due to the association between snow and winter holidays, cozy nights by the fire, and other nostalgic memories. Some people also find the scent of snow to be refreshing and invigorating, as it often signals a new season or fresh start.


While snow itself is odorless, the scent of snow comes from the air around us and the volatile organic compounds released by soil and trees. The specific odor of snow may vary depending on the location, weather conditions, and environment. Some people find the smell of snow to be comforting and refreshing, while others may not even notice a distinct scent at all. Regardless of individual preferences, the smell of snow is a unique phenomenon that adds charm and character to the winter season.


What causes snow smell?

Snow smell is a unique scent that many people associate with winter. While it is commonly believed that the smell comes from the snow itself, it is actually a result of a combination of factors.

One of the main causes of snow smell is the dry air that is present during winter. Cold air holds less moisture than warm air, so the air during winter can be extremely dry. This dryness can cause certain compounds in the air to become more concentrated, leading to a more pronounced scent.

Another factor that contributes to the snow smell is the difference in air pressure. When cold air spreads across an area, it can create areas of high and low pressure that can cause the release of certain odor compounds. This pressure difference can also cause the snow to release these compounds, which leads to the snow smell.

Finally, the snow itself can pick up compounds from the air. The top layer of snow covering the ground is particularly susceptible to this, as it is in direct contact with the air. As time passes, the snow absorbs more of those odor compounds, increasing the scent.

The snow smell is caused by a combination of factors, including dry air, different air pressure, and the absorption of compounds from the air. While many people may associate the snow smell with winter, it is important to note that the scent is not actually coming from the snow itself, but rather the environment in which the snow is present.