Woman smelling from essential oil bottle for smell training

Smell Training Guide

How to do Smell Training at Home

This week we had the pleasure of talking with the lovely Nina from Fifth Sense- the charity that supports people with smell disorders in the UK.

Unfortunately Covid- 19 has caused havoc with smell loss with Fifth Sense reporting a huge increase in members looking for support through their website.

Smell is often overlooked somewhat when it comes to the senses. Smell is SO essential to living our lives, so any loss of smell not only comes with the physical problems but the emotional ones too- fear, worry, sadness and anxiety. “ Will I be able to smell Gas, or a fire?”, causing massive disconnections as well with things we know, love and recognise, such as the smell of baking, our clean sheets or our partners scent. So for people that lose their sense of smell; it is devastating.

Fifth Sense are an amazing charity doing such a wonderful job and have some brilliant advice for people suffering from a range of smell problems, check out Fifth Sense if you or someone you know needs some help at this time - Fifth Sense

Smell testing and training is something the charity is supporting and offering some brilliant support with:

It is important to know that potentially 5% of the population (around 3 million people in the UK) have a smell disorder, meaning they are unable to smell properly, if at all. 

Smell disorders such as anosmia (an inability to smell), hyposmia (reduced sense of smell), parosmia (distorted sense of smell), phantosmia (smelling things that aren’t present), can be caused by viral infections other than Covid-19, swelling in the nose and sinuses (e.g. chronic sinusitis, allergies), traumatic head injuries and a range of other causes.  Some people are born without a sense of smell.

If you are personally worried about Covid-19 symptoms and want to test your own ability to smell you can undertake this simple test at home. It takes less than 2 minutes – SIMPLE!

From the research studies so far, this novel Coronavirus often presents sudden and obvious smell loss in those affected. Which is why “Yes I can smell a scent” or “No I can’t smell anything” would be helpful. 

You can download a daily diary to record your/your family’s ability to smell to enable you to decide if to seek medical advice and guidance and/or decide if you need to self-isolate.

Using Essential Oils

Once you are comfortable with the routine of smell training and if you want to develop and increase the range of smells, you might want to invest in some essential oils. Again, basing the training on the research, it is important to have diversity in your choices of oils and use smells you like and are familiar with.

What you need:

  • Different essential oils. Lemon, rose, clove and eucalyptus are the four smells used in many of the published research studies but you should choose smells you recognise and enjoy e.g peppermint, orange, lavender etc. You can obtain them online or from aromatherapy stores

  • You will need empty glass jars with lids (clean glass spice or baby food jars are ideal), some cotton pads, fragrance strips or some blank nasal inhalers with cotton wicks.

If creating your own jars, pour a small amount of the essential oil into the jar and allow for an airspace over the liquid for the odour vapour to build up and improve the ability of the volatile odour molecules. Or you can put a few drops onto a small piece of absorbent paper and put that into the jar. Keep the lid screwed on in between training sessions and store in the fridge or similar cool place.

You will need to label or write on the jar the scent you are using in each one.

If you choose to use cotton pads, fragrance strips or nasal inhalers pour a few droplets of one of the oils on to the pad/strip/cotton wick and allow the fragrance to develop for a few minutes.

However, you are training using essential oils, for best results:

1. Hold the first jar, pad or fragrance strip up to your nose, about an inch away – the order in which you smell the oils does not matter. With an inhaler stick, place the cotton wick into the tube and insert the tube into your nose.

2. Relax and slowly and gently, inhale naturally – sniffing too quickly and deeply is likely to result in you not being able to detect anything

3. Repeat 2 or 3 more times, then rest for five minutes

4. Move on to the next smell and repeat as above.

5. When you have finished, ensure the jar is screwed tightly shut and is stored in the fridge or cool place so the oil can be reused. If you are using an inhaler stick, dispose of the used wick and clean the tube thoroughly with soap and water.


  • Smell train at least twice every day, ideally morning and evening

  • Relax and inhale naturally

  • Don’t sniff too hard or for too long…10 seconds for each smell is enough

  • Try smelling other things too – spices, flowers, fragrance, anything that’s safe to smell!

  • And try to stick with it. If you cannot smell anything at first do not be disheartened. Everyone is different, and we’ve heard from people who have tried this process themselves and have experienced varying degrees of success. For some people it can take weeks or even longer before they detect anything and some people may not get any benefit from it at all, but it is worth trying.

Just remember that studies have shown that the sense of smell can change and improve, and that it can be trained and developed with exposure to odours, as expert perfumers will testify. Good luck!


You can donate to Fifth Sense if you are able via their website or here or by purchasing one of our Essential Oil Kits (we are donating 15% of essential oil sales to them directly), these include the 4 essential oils in the study.

Our Essential Oil Kits can be used for Smell training or brilliant as a starter kit/ Valentine’s gift for Aromatherapy fans.

Grab 15% off a kit now using code SMELL in our shop here

Stay safe Friends! and spread love this February and to yourself: you are doing the best you can and that is always enough!

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