The Standardized Unit of Smell Is Known As What?
Answer: An Olf
The ability to measure things is a critical component in scientific inquiry. If you’re studying the strength of scents and their impact on people, then you need to come up with a standardized unit of what exactly constitutes the sensory input of smell.
To that end, Danish professor P. Ole Fanger created the smell measurement unit known as an “Olf”, derived from the Latin word “olfactus”, which means “smelled”. So what exactly is an Olf? 1 Olf is the strength of the smell produced by a healthy adult working a sedentary job, in a climate controlled environment, with the hygienic equivalent of 0.7 baths per day, and a skin surface area of 1.8 square meters.
Using that as a base measurement, the “Olf” levels of other things can be determined. A heavy smoker, for example, generates 25 Olfs. An athlete after participation in a strenuous sport generates 30 Olfs. A non-porous and virtually scentless material like polished marble gives off a mere 0.01 Olfs per square meter of surface area.
Image by William Lawrence/Wikimedia.