Gasoline Fragrance: Why We Love the Smell of Petrol

Maybe you drove an ancient Tacoma in high school or worked at a gas station with your friend as your first job. Maybe you spend your summers jet skiing or road-tripping across the country with your best friends. No matter the reason, there are plenty of us who simply love the smell of petrol. 

So, why is the smell of gasoline so enjoyable for some of us, and how can you bring it back into your daily life? Today, we’re exploring why we love the smell of petrol so much, and introducing you to Snif’s gasoline fragrance — one that will last long after you swap your gas guzzler for a more eco-friendly electric vehicle.

And for what it’s worth, when we refer to petrol, we’re referring solely to the scent and gasoline accords that are safely designed for wear. 

The Smell of Gasoline Explained

Before we look at why we love the smell of petrol (and how to wear it as a fragrance), let’s talk about why petrol smells the way it does. 

Even though we refer to gasoline as a singular scent, gas is actually made of several different compounds: benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylene, to be exact. Out of this group, it’s benzene that gives petrol its distinct smell.

Benzene smells slightly sweet and extremely pungent, and it evaporates instantly — which means there doesn’t need to be a lot of benzene around for you to smell it immediately. 

Why Do We Love the Smell of Petrol?

Now that you know a bit more about the smell of petrol and its origins, it’s time to dive into why some of us love the smell of gas. 

Some enjoy it, some hate it. The smell of gas can be pretty divisive… and when people like the smell of gasoline, they tend to seriously love it. Here’s why.


You may love the smell of petrol for the same reason you listen to the music your parents used to play in the car as a kid. 

Put simply, the smell of petrol is just nostalgic for many of us. 

Because the smell of petrol is so strong, it can easily bring up a variety of memories. If you used to go for long drives as a child, for example, or spent your summers watching your dad work on the car, the smell of petrol might trigger happy memories from your younger years.

When a smell triggers a memory, this is called an olfactory memory. It’s thought that scents tend to evoke some of our strongest emotional memories that are pretty difficult to forget. So, it may only take one whiff of petrol to bring you back to the winding country roads or sprawling freeways of your youth. 

Pungent Scents: Why They’re So Appealing

When we call a scent “pungent,” what we mean is that it has a really strong, sharp smell. This may seem counterintuitive, but we, as humans, are attracted to pungent scents such as petrol. Part of the reason these fragrances are so appealing is that things in nature rarely smell completely sterile all the time. 

Pungent scents also get us out of our fragrance comfort zone and stimulate different sensory perceptions. Think about a strong-smelling cheese or an aged steak — even though we might not necessarily say they smell good, we’re intrigued by their smells because they shock and excite our senses. 

That said, pungent fragrances can also help balance out more pleasant scents and stop them from smelling flat and dull. Imagine a really sweet scent like bubble gum or cotton candy, or super flowery fragrance oils. Although they have “good” smells, they generally need to be balanced out to become more rich and complex.

Dead Dinosaur: An Ode to the Addictive Smell of Gasoline

If you’ve made it this far, maybe we’ve convinced you that a fuel-inspired fragrance should be on your wishlist…

If so, Snif’s got you covered. Dead Dinosaur is our ultimate ode to the addictive smell of petrol, garage hangs, and simpler times. With one sniff of Dead Dinosaur, you’ll be back in your suburban garage jamming on a drumset or working away under the hood of a Mustang.

Combining gasoline accord, magnolia, cedarwood, and amber woods, this scent will transport you back to the gas pump with your very first car. Dead Dinosaur is part of Snif’s secret menu, a selection of fragrances designed to build scent experiences that have never been done before.

Why Wear a Gasoline Fragrance?

Even if you like the smell of petrol, you might be a little bit unsure about wearing it as a fragrance… and that’s understandable. If that sounds like you, we’re giving you a list of different ways you can wear and layer petrol scents, like Dead Dinosaur, with your favorite fragrances to create even more distinct, delicious scents.

Pairs With Florals

One of the best ways to craft your perfect signature scent is by layering several fragrances. If you want to add a lighter, sweeter scent on top of a gasoline fragrance, you can layer it with a floral fragrance like Poppy Issues

Just like they always say, opposites attract — and an unexpected combo like gasoline and florals can make for a super unique and impressive fragrance.

Pairs With Woodsy Scents

If you want to mix the mechanic, rugged scent of gasoline with something reminiscent of nature, layer your gasoline fragrance with a woody scent like Way With Woods, made with white tea, mandarin, sandalwood, amber woods, vetiver, and musk. 

This subtle, inviting scent helps balance out the sharp smell of a gasoline fragrance to create a new experience that will have you (and everyone who smells you) dreaming of a road trip through a redwood forest. 

Stands Out in a Crowd

For the daring, we suggest wearing a gasoline fragrance on its own and letting the scent work its magic. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind fragrance that everyone will love and no one else will be wearing, a gasoline scent gets the job done. 

Given that it’s not a typical scent in fragrances (to say the least), if you wear a gasoline fragrance, you’re sure to stand out in a crowd.


Even if you opt for a new Tesla over a classic Ford, the smell of gasoline and your memories associated with it can be in your life long after you make the switch to an electric car. You can layer a gasoline fragrance with a woody musk or a fragrant floral for a new scent experience, or wear it alone as a standout fragrance. 

Regardless of how you wear your fuel fragrance, know that you’re sure to leave your mark. 


Ah, Sweet Sunk! Why We Like or Dislike What We Smell | Dana Foundation

Scent-evoked nostalgia | NIH

Olfactory memory, an overview | Science Direct

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