10 Unexpected Applications of Scratch & Sniff Technology

Did you know that Katy Perry’s album Teenage Dream had a cotton candy scent when scratched?

Scratch and sniff technology, a peculiar concept that I believed never really caught on and was destined to be a mere gimmick or fad that would eventually fade away.

However, it has succeeded in certain areas.

It may not be as successful as other apparent gimmicks of its time, such as touch screens and CDs, but in its own unique way, it has prevailed!

Before we explore the list, let’s first discuss how to create scratch and sniff.

The process of creating a scent is always the same, regardless of its future application, but the difference lies in how it is applied to a surface.

First, scented oil is mixed with a water and water-soluble polymer solution in a large vat or reactor and blended at high speed.

As it blends, the oil forms tiny droplets, each reaching 20 to 30 microns in size after about 12 hours, making them invisible to the naked eye.

Then, the blending stops, and a chemical catalyst is added, causing the polymers to become water-insoluble.

This encapsulates each oil droplet, which is then gathered and washed to remove any that did not bond or react correctly.

Next, the capsules are placed in a tank and then mixed with a water base and an adhesive, forming a thick goo that is applied to the surface.

This can be done through silk-screening, web offset printing, flexographic printing (i.e., scratch and sniff stickers), and extrusion (i.e., making perfume sample strips).

How does it work? You scratch, the microcapsules break, and the oil travels up your nose, and voila! Sandalwood, smelly socks, or fruit—the possibilities are endless!

Now, let’s take a look at ten surprising and little-known places where Scratch & Sniff technology has been used.

Stickers, Cards, and Collectibles

So, with the process explained, let’s begin! The most common place we know scratch and sniff technology would be on stickers.

Smells are a great way to entice children, and in 1977, Creative Teaching Press combined the two, creating the first mass-produced scratch and sniff stickers.

They came in 24 styles and are known as CTP77’s by collectors (yes, collectors!).

These stickers were primarily used as rewards for a teacher’s students.

The era of scratch and sniff seemed to be the 70s and 80s, but as the years went on, scratch and sniff stickers became more and more common.

In 2000, for example, Panini, the world-renowned sticker producer, produced The Simpsons sticker album, which included, among other options, a scratch and sniff range.

Drug Prevention and Official Documentation

A much weirder or at least random place to find this technology would be in official documentation.

In 2013, the UK charity Crimestoppers released 210,000 leaflets aimed at tackling the rise of drug dealers in the area.

The card had a scratch and sniff section to make people aware of the smell of cannabis and ways to identify possible cultivations in their area.

In 2016, UK police charities released a scratch and sniff card to help young people identify and avoid potential drug use. The “No Excuses” campaign utilized a variety of scents on the cards. Scratch and sniff technology has also been used in the music industry, with CD’s and LP’s featuring it on their covers and products. Katy Perry’s album Teenage Dream even had a cotton candy scent when scratched. Limited edition CDs, like Mae’s, have also been released with ocean scents. Scratch and sniff technology has even been used in campaigning, such as in the New York subway where posters were placed to tackle the stench and make rides more pleasant. Clothing companies like Naked & Famous and Smellies have also utilized scratch and sniff scents in their products. Even home decor has been impacted, with scratch and sniff wallpaper being produced by flavorpaper allowing people to cover their walls with their favorite scent. Marketing and advertisements have also jumped on the trend, with Old Spice combining the internet and scratch and sniff technology in an ad. The gaming world has also utilized scratch and sniff technology.

In the same way that music has used scratch and sniff to appeal to other senses, gaming has also employed this technology. In 1999, Gran Turismo 2 released a 2-disc edition of the game, with the second disc being blue and featuring the scent of fuel and burning rubber. This wasn’t the first time scratch and sniff was used in gaming; in 1995, Earthbound for Super Nintendo came with a set of cards with unpleasant smells to be experienced during gameplay. The use of scratch and sniff isn’t limited to racing or smaller games. For example, in 2000, Fifa 2001 had the scent of a football stadium turf on the disc. Literature has also embraced this technology, with DC Comics releasing a scratch and sniff edition of Harley Quinn in 2014, and Richard Bett producing a “scratch and sniff guide to becoming a wine expert.” Although not technically scratch and sniff, DigiScents Inc. created the iSmell in 2001, a personal scent synthesizer that could be connected to a PC via USB and release small bursts of scent during gameplay. Scratch and sniff is a gimmicky but effective way to remember a product or service, and it may have a future in the world of online shopping and fragrance.


1. What is “Scratch & Sniff” technology?

“Scratch & Sniff” technology is a method used to add a scent to products, such as stickers, books, and packaging. It involves adding micro-encapsulated fragrances to a material, which are released when the surface is scratched or rubbed. This allows a consumer to experience a scent without the need for a liquid or spray. The technology was first introduced in the 1960s and has since been used in a variety of applications.”

2. What are some common products that use “Scratch & Sniff” technology?

“Scratch & Sniff” technology is commonly used in children’s books, stickers, and stationery products. It is also used in perfumes and other fragrances to allow customers to sample the scent before purchasing. Food and beverage packaging is another common application, as it allows customers to experience the scent of a product before opening it.”

3. What are some unique uses of “Scratch & Sniff” technology?

One unique use of “Scratch & Sniff” technology is in scratch-and-sniff lottery tickets. These tickets have a scent added to them, and if the player scratches the ticket and matches the scent to a winning scent, they win a prize. Another unique use is in scratch-and-sniff wallpaper, which allows homeowners to add a scent to their walls. The technology has also been used in advertisements, such as a bus stop ad for a coffee company that released the scent of coffee when rubbed.”

4. How is “Scratch & Sniff” technology environmentally friendly?

“Scratch & Sniff” technology is environmentally friendly because it does not require the use of liquid or spray fragrances. This means that there is less waste and fewer chemicals released into the environment. Additionally, the micro-encapsulated fragrances used in the technology are biodegradable, so they do not contribute to pollution.”

5. What are some potential future uses of “Scratch & Sniff” technology?

One potential future use of “Scratch & Sniff” technology is in virtual reality experiences. Adding scents to virtual reality environments could enhance the user’s experience and make it more immersive. Another potential use is in healthcare, where scents could be used to help patients with memory disorders or to create a more calming environment. Additionally, “Scratch & Sniff” technology could be used in packaging for products such as medication or cleaning supplies, to provide a warning scent if the product is expired or dangerous.”

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