The Link Between Scents and Nostalgic Memories

The Link Between Scents and Nostalgic Memories
Sometimes when we walk into a room, the smell reminds us of a past event. The best aromas leave us feeling happy as we reflect on a day that happened months or years ago. This occurs because of the link between scents and nostalgic memories our brains form. In this blog, we’ll uncover interesting facts about that connection and the popular smells that awaken memories.

Why Are Scents Nostalgic?

Have you ever walked into a room that smells amazing, and as you take a deep breath, you suddenly remember a past event? Different smells can trigger our brains to recall specific memories related to that smell.

Without diving too deep into psychology, this happens because of key areas of our brain, including the olfactory bulb, amygdala, and hippocampus. These three brain regions connect, creating the tie between smell and memory. First, the fragrance triggers the olfactory bulb, which processes scents. From here, the amygdala and hippocampus process emotions and memories surrounding the event.

This process also explains why some smells make us happy while others increase feelings of agitation. When negative memories surround a scent, we’re less likely to enjoy the smell, even if the event has long passed.

Smells Impact Emotion

Another interesting fact about the link between scents and nostalgic memories is how it triggers specific emotions. This occurs because we experience a range of feelings during events and our brain stores all that information alongside the memory.

For some, scent blends of cinnamon, pine, clove, and gingerbread make us think of the winter holidays. This can increase feelings of joy or overall comfort since these are often happy memories spent with the people we love most.

Other scents like citrus or coconut can shine the light on a beach vacation we took as a kid. This can awaken a sense of adventure and excitement. We all attach different meanings to an aroma based on the memories surrounding it. So, while some of us may love filling our lungs with the sugary smell of fresh gingerbread or sweet coconut, others may not if negative memories surround it.

Why You Should Light Candles for Reading

Some people enjoy reading, while others are straight-up bibliophiles who can’t ever fill their sensational thirst for books. Lighting a candle as you read is a wonderful and relaxing way to engage you with the plot and can make the story more memorable.

It’s More Relaxing

While reading is exciting, some of us live a fast-paced life, so clearing our heads may be easier said than done. In addition to awakening memories, specific smells also encourage feelings of relaxation.

Scents such as lavender, fresh linen, sandalwood, and jasmine are wonderful for aroma therapy. These smells help cultivate feelings of relaxation because they trigger the parasympathetic nervous system—mindful activities like deep breathing also do this.

The most relaxing smells are a matter of opinion and often tie back to memory and feelings surrounding them. Create a list of which smells make you happiest. Do you love specific flowers or fruits? Or maybe the aroma of green tea gives you those cozy feelings. It’s easier to narrow down which scents to shop for by noting your preferences.

It’s More Memorable

Your brain creates neural pathways when processing specific smells and stores this alongside memories. Due to this, lighting candles while you read makes the story more memorable. This is because, similar to a life experience, your brain will store information about the novel and pair it with that candle’s scent.

While you can select scents you love, another option is to choose candles with smells similar to the story. If it takes place in a small seaside town, buy candles that smell like cedarwood, eucalyptus, and citrus. Likewise, nothing beats the smells of chocolate and coffee if there’s a chapter set in a café.

Buy Amazing Candles

At Frostbeard, we love books and candles, which is why we sell the best book lovers’ soy candles. Our products smell like your favorite stories! Fully immerse yourself into the plot and create even more impactful memories about your most cherished novel.

Best Nostalgic Scents

A single smell has a different meaning to each of us, but some stand out more than others. Some of the most nostalgic scents include:

  • Specific foods
  • Roses
  • Old books
  • Leather

Just like our memories, every smell is unique yet powerful. Placing candles with these or other nostalgic scents in your home allows you to relive your happiest memories and create new ones.

Specific Foods

Nearly all of us have at least one dish or dessert we loved to eat growing up. For some, the aroma of pastries reminds them of childhood. The smell of sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla may remind you of the brownies your grandma always baked. One of the most distinct scents in this blend is cocoa, so a chocolate-scented candle or wax melt can help trigger this memory.


Roses are among the most celebratory flowers, as we often receive them from romantic partners or relatives as a sign of their love. This strongly fragranced flower may remind you of spring when the world comes alive again. Smelling this flower often awakens positive memories and emotions regardless of the specific memory.

Old Books

If you love reading, then nothing beats the smell of old books. The earthy-wood scent of old paper, hints of vanilla, and a slight musky smell are always pleasing. This scent makes a book lover think of all the fantastic stories they’ve read and still plan to discover. While you can’t always smell old books, you can shop for candles with these scents.


Leather is another nostalgic scent that reminds us of many things. Some individuals may think of their first pair of authentic Western boots. But others may think of the leather-bound journal in which they hand-wrote their first story.

Shop at Frostbeard

Frostbeard sells a wide assortment of candle scents to ensure every shopper can find one that’s nostalgic to them! We have seasonal options, year-round candles, and limited editions. Browse our collection and select the scents that’ll pair best with the stories you read.

The Link Between Scents and Nostalgic Memories