I love the smelll of old books...

Do you?

Well, if you do, you probably love the smell of coffee and chocolate.

Science reveals that books are composed of paper, bindings, and ink. These three things contain chemical compounds. Over time, chemical compounds can be broken down thanks to the moisture, heat, and light in their surroundings. When this happens, volatile organic compounds are released into the air...and when you open an old or new book.

Here's an example of some the compounds from books that smell like coffee and chocolate too:

  • Benzaldehyde: Is also naturally found in almonds, which is why you may detect a hint of nuttiness when you open a good book.
  • Vanillin: Gives vanilla its smell and flavor. It can, thus, make books smell the same.
  • Ethylbenzene: Aside from setting up shop in books, this compound can also be found in paints, plastics, and inks. It gives off a slightly sweet scent.
  • 2-Ethyl Hexanol: A form of alcohol used in flavors, scents, and solvents. Has a delicate, floral aroma.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: Is mainly found in new books, since it helps to bleach the paper. Can add to the crisp, fresh scent of a new book.
  • Alkyl Ketene Dimers: Makes the paper a bit water-resistant. Helps create that “new book” smell.


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