The Fifth Sense

It's only on rare occasions that I get to experience — in person — the products that we write about every month in AQUA. Sure, I swim in a big commercial pool twice a week, but my third-floor apartment is equipped with neither a hot tub nor a sauna. The only water feature in my home is a tropical fish aquarium. Pretty much all my furniture is casual, but because it's so well used, not because that's the category it started life in.

Without a pool or hot tub to call my own, I just don't have much cause to spend time with filter media, specialty chemicals or vinyl liners, outside of work. But this month I wrote about fragrance, something that's in my environment every day. And, unless you have a very rare medical condition, it's in your life every day as well, for better or for worse.

There is a body of research showing that the sense of smell is the most powerful of the five senses when it comes to emotion and memory. This is because the olfactory organ is physically connected to the area of the brain that controls emotion and memory. This is why we can have such strong reactions to scents, either good or bad.

As I discovered more about the home fragrance industry (by the way, it's a $2 billion category), I saw many parallels with the swimming pool and hot tub world. Fragrance is a product category that has both documented therapeutic applications, such as the practice of true aromatherapy; and less-clinical, preference-based uses, such as burning a vanilla-scented candle on a cold winter day to help you feel cozier. And both industries have benefited from the public's continued romance with their own homes.

Adding fragrance to the hot tub experience just makes sense. And while you can get quite scientific about it, if that's what you like to do; you can also advise customers to experiment with the scores of fragrances and fragrance blends available for hot tubs, choosing what works for them.

Purely in the interest of research, I bought a vial of lavender essential oil, to evaluate its purported calming, relaxing effects for myself. Hopefully, it will help evoke the soothing effect of the warm therapeutic water in my imaginary hot tub.

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