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Can smells travel through liquids?

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Who 'nose' what you might be able to smell underwater.

Asked by: Stan Arlington, by email

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They certainly can, just as they can travel through solids like plastic packaging.

The two main differences between the movement of aroma molecules in air and their movement in liquids or solids are the concentration of the molecules and the speed at which they can travel through the medium. In water, the concentration can be extremely low because many aroma molecules have only minimal solubility in water.

The speed of diffusion of the aroma molecules is also much slower than in air because there are many more solvent or solid molecules in the way.

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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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