Why does Death smell Sweet?

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Death is a topic that has fascinated humans for centuries. It is a universal human experience that is both mysterious and fascinating. When we think of death, we often think of decay and the unpleasant smell that comes with it. However, there are instances where the scent of death is said to be sweet. This may seem like an oxymoron, but there are scientific and cultural explanations for why death can smell sweet. In this blog post, we will explore the phenomenon of sweet-smelling death and delve into the various reasons behind it.

Why does Death smell Sweet?

The Scent of Death: A Paradoxical Experience

The human nose is incredibly sensitive and can detect a wide range of smells, including those that are associated with death. The smell of death is often described as putrid and overpowering, but there are instances where the scent is said to be sweet. This paradoxical experience has been reported by people across different cultures and time periods.

Sweet Smelling Death in Mythology and Folklore

The idea of sweet-smelling death is not a new one. In fact, it has been present in mythology and folklore for centuries. In ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Persephone was abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld. While she was there, she ate pomegranate seeds, which bound her to the underworld forever. The scent of the pomegranate fruit is said to be sweet and pleasant, and it is believed that this is why Persephone chose to eat it. Similarly, in Hindu mythology, the goddess Kali is often depicted surrounded by a sweet-smelling fragrance that is said to be associated with death and destruction.

Sweet Smelling Death in Science

The idea of sweet-smelling death is not just a myth or a cultural phenomenon. There is also scientific evidence to suggest that death can smell sweet. When an animal or human dies, their body begins to decompose, and this process releases a number of chemicals and gases. One of these chemicals is called putrescine, which is produced by the breakdown of amino acids in the body. Putrescine has a sweet, slightly fruity odor that some people have described as pleasant.

In addition to putrescine, there are other chemicals that are released during the process of decomposition that can produce sweet smells. For example, the chemical compound benzaldehyde is found in the scent of almonds and is also produced during the breakdown of fatty acids in the body. This compound has a sweet, slightly floral odor that can sometimes be detected in the scent of decomposing bodies.

The Cultural Significance of Sweet-Smelling Death

The idea of sweet-smelling death has different cultural meanings and significance. In some cultures, it is believed that the sweet scent is a sign of a good death, where the person has died peacefully and without suffering. In other cultures, the sweet smell is seen as a sign of the soul leaving the body and ascending to the afterlife.

In some cases, the sweet smell of death has even been used for medicinal purposes. In ancient Chinese medicine, for example, a substance called “mellified man” was created by placing a dead body in honey until it was completely saturated. The resulting substance was believed to have healing properties and was used to treat a range of illnesses.


The concept of sweet-smelling death is a paradoxical one, but it is a phenomenon that has been reported across different cultures and time periods. While the smell of death is typically associated with decay and unpleasantness, there are instances where the scent can be sweet and even pleasant. The reasons for this can be scientific, cultural, or mythological, but the significance of the sweet smell of death varies from culture to culture.

Why does Death smell Sweet?
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