Have you ever picked up an old book? Say, a book from the seventies? Or older? Have you ever noticed that these books have a peculiar smell? I personally love that smell. It’s like a combination of pipe tobacco, grass and vanilla. I remember borrowing my mom’s 1970’s paperback copy of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Even though the book eventually split in half from my absent-minded rough handling of it, I always loved opening up that book and feeling that aroma take over as I grokked about the story of Valentine Smith. (P.S. if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you need to read this book – old pages or not). But what makes a book smell so distinct with age?
Well turns out, science has something to do with it. Andy Brunning, a British chemistry teacher, runs a blog where he posts infographics on the science behind everyday chemical reactions. His explanation for the infamous “old book smell” lies within the organic compounds that are created by the breakdown of cellulose and lignin within the pages. The infographic explains the odor of new books as well as old, in a nice and neat format. Check out the via link below to check out his website!