Have you ever had the experience where you have a wonderful smell surrounding you, only to find that over time you no longer smell it? It’s as if your nose is taking a nap. This is called Olfactory Fatigue, but can also be called nose blindness, odor fatigue, sensory adaptation, or in extreme cases, anosmia (a nasal condition in which you lose your sense of smell, sometimes permanently).
Your sense of smell is thanks to the hard work of a combination of odor receptors in your nose and your brain’s limbic system where the olfactory sensing takes place. When the particles from a particular odor hit these receptors, it sends a signal to the brain and your brain interprets it. When you experience a new odor, the sense can be overwhelming. Our nose and brain work together to identify the smell and respond to it. However, once our brain determines the odor isn’t a dangerous one (think smoke or gas), the smell tends to dull, and our receptors and our brain no longer focus on it. At some point, you no longer notice the smell. It can even happen as fast as two breaths! This is what is known as Olfactory Fatigue, sensory adaptation, or nose blindness.
Don’t fret - It’s your body’s temporary (and normal) response to continued exposure to a particular fragrance or airborne compound that it has deemed non-threatening. It can be very short term- such as leaving the room for several minutes and then return, or it can take a few days to lessen the nose blindness and be able to detect the scent again.
How do you correct it? Some say sniff some coffee beans or lemon slices, but science has yet to prove that is effective in clearing your olfactory palette. Your best option is to remove the smell from your surroundings, or remove yourself from the smell - step outside and breathe some fresh air for a while.
If we’re talking specifically about a candle, we suggest you pop the lid back on, stick it in a dark and cool cupboard and grab a different favorite Milkhouse fragrance to burn instead. It’s a wise idea to keep several different scents in your arsenal at the same time so you can rotate through them to keep your snoot from snoozing. We would recommend alternating between various fragrance categories too - burn a gourmand (food/drink) candle for a while, like Brown Butter Pumpkin and Cup O' Joe, and then switch to something more floral, like Wild Lilacs or Pink Peony, and next round bring in the woodsy scents such as Silver Birch and Citrus Balsam. This will keep your nose at peak performance for sniffing the good stuff.