How to Pavlov Your Way Through Life Using Candles: The Science of Scent and Classical Conditioning

Know how the scent of your dad’s Old Spice aftershave takes you right back to those Sunday afternoon fishing trips? 

What about the way the cinnamony smell of a warm apple pie plops you straight into grandma Ruth’s well-padded hug? 

Or the blood pressure spike you feel from just a single whiff of your ex’s cologne?

Whether we realize it or not, we've all been classically conditioned to love or hate certain smells. 

But that was unintentional. Can you use scent to classically condition your brain on purpose?

We’ll explain the science behind scent and classical conditioning — and suggest some Aroma-sthesia® products that can help get your mind right where you want it to be.

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Table of Contents

How I Started Using Aroma-sthesia® Candles to Pavlov My Way Through Life

Tiffany Moon knows the powerful relationship between smells and memories.

Mothballs remind her of her grandmother. 

Let us explain. 

Growing up, Tiffany’s family was poor. But her grandmother loved cashmere sweaters — and would do whatever it took to keep those nasty little moths from chewing holes in her prized cardigans. 

If they did, Tiffany knew it would be a rough week for everyone in the family! 

Since grandma decided mothballs would be her sweaters’ saving grace, she always smelled like mothballs. 

So … anytime Tiffany smells the distinctive scent of mothballs, she feels a warm sense of nostalgia. 

The Science Behind Classical Conditioning Through Scent

Remember Pavlov? (Hint: Think waaay back to your high school psych class. He was the dude with the salivating dogs.)

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who came up with the idea of classical conditioning.

A form of associative learning, classical conditioning involves the pairing of a neutral stimulus with an environmental stimulus to create the desired response.

Classical conditioning can be used in all sorts of ways, but Pavlov decided to test his theory on dogs

Each day before feeding his dogs, he rang a bell. The dogs quickly learned that every time the bell rang, food was on its way, and it didn’t take long before they started to salivate any time they heard the bell. 

In Pavlov’s experiment with his pups, the neutral stimulus was the tinkling of the bell and the reflex was the dogs’ drooling in response to food. 

By pairing the neutral stimulus with the environmental stimulus (presenting the dog’s food), just the mere sound of the bell made the dogs drool — even when there was no food in sight.

To break it down, classical conditioning works by pairing one thing with another thing until those two things become forever linked together in your mind.

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The 3 Stages of Scent and Classical Conditioning

You’re probably thinking, “Okay, that’s really cool. But dogs are, well … dogs. Can this classical conditioning scent stuff work on people?”

It can! 

Let’s take a look at how the 3 stages of classical conditioning might have played out with Tiffany and her grandmother’s sweaters.

#1: Pre-Conditioning

In the preconditioning stage, no new associations had been established. 

Instead, there was a naturally-occurring stimulus (like Tiffany’s grandma) and a naturally occurring response (how warm and safe she felt when she was around).

  • Natural stimuli: Something that already exists and gives you warm and cozy feelings.
  • Natural response: The happiness you feel towards the natural stimuli.

So let's see how it would look to pair this natural response with a different stimulus — mothballs.

#2: During Conditioning

In stage two of classical conditioning, a brand-new stimulus that isn’t paired with anything else (like mothballs) is paired with an already existing response — like the feeling of safety and love Tiffany felt around her grandmother.

The conditioning stage works best with repetition. 

A perfect example is that every time Tiffany hugged her grandma, she smelled mothballs — and felt loved and safe.

#3: Post-Conditioning

By stage three, the association was solidified in her brain. 

Now, every time she gets a whiff of mothballs, even when her grandma isn't there, the scent alone takes her right back to the safe and happy feeling.

2 Examples of How I Used Aroma-sthesia® Candles in Classical Conditioning

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#1: For Workout Motivation: the Dexmedetomidine Candle

Tiffany started testing her theory of scent training her brain after weeks of being stuck at home left her sporting the dreaded “quarantine 15”. 

She wanted to lose the weight but needed some serious motivation.

Enter Aroma-sthesia’s®  grapefruit/bergamot scented Dexmedetomidine Candle — or dex for short. 

Grapefruit is known for its energizing effects, but studies also show that just smelling grapefruit can curb your hunger. 

So Tiffany decided to use science and aromatherapy to train herself to work out. 

Each day, about 30 minutes before workout time, she’d light a Dex candle in her gym. 

It didn’t take long before her mind started to associate the grapefruity smell with working out — making her more motivated than ever to hit the treadmill or the elliptical.

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#2: For Sexy Time: the Haloperidol Candle

But the desire for exercise isn't the only thing you can train. Wink. Wink. 

Tiffany decided to try her newfound scent conditioning technique to encourage a “little sexy” time with her hubby.

About 30 minutes before she was ready to start feeling a little saucy, she’d light a Haloperidol Candle and go gather her husband — who was totally oblivious to the fact that he was being trained.

After about 6 weeks, he figured out that when he smelled that sexy amber/jasmine scent, it was time for him to turn it up a bit.

As Tiffany says, “If you can train a dog to salivate with a bell, you can surely train a man to get an erection with a candle.”

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Other Suggested Ways You Can Use Aroma-sthesia® Candles to Get What You Want

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For Better Sleep: the Rocuronium Candle

The stress of a new job. Or an old job. Or any job, for that matter.

A baby whose days and nights are totally turned around, or … teenagers. 

No matter what stage of life you're in, everyone has nights when sleep just won't come — the Aroma-sthesia®  Rocuronium candle is just what the doctor ordered. 

Its fresh aroma of eucalyptus mingled with bright citrus will make your mind let go of the craziness of the day and lull you into a state of peaceful slumber.

But please remember to burn your candles the smart way and never fall asleep with a lit candle nearby

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For Resuscitation: the Epinephrine Candle

Resuscitation is defined as “the action of making something active or vigorous again.”

And if you're looking for that extra boost to get out there and conquer your goals, Aroma-sthesia’s® Epinephrine candle is sure to get the job done. 

The earthy scent of … 

  • Soft amber
  • Himalayan cedarwood; and 
  • A touch of jasmine

… will invigorate your senses, get your worn-out tush off the sofa, and give you the oomph you need to keep on adulting.

To Calm Yourself: the Alprazolam Candle

Raise your hand if you need an occasional “chill pill.”

(For those who didn’t raise a hand — we see you, and we know you’re lying.)

If you’re a human who needs to relax, this one’s for you.

Aroma-sthesia’s® Alprazolam Candle’s active ingredient is “serenity” — in the form of sweet jasmine and lucky bamboo. 

This floral fragrance will whisk your mind to a breezy island getaway where worries vanish into thin air.

Light it up and prepare for 'serenity now.'  

Aroma-sthesia® Candles: The Ultimate Luxury Life Hack

Tiffany Moon is a candle fanatic. And a luxury fanatic. 

That’s why Aroma-sthesia® candles are all about creating the perfect ambiance — the luxurious environment you want and deserve. 

Our premium grade candles are triple-scented, meaning you’ll smell the scent down to the very last drop, and they’re made with … 

  • Premium soy wax; and
  • The highest quality essential and fragrance oils 

No junk. No cheapo ingredients. Just 100% pure pampering.

Each candle is made right here in the U.S., and we even donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each Aroma-sthesia® candle to The Family Place.

And with our diverse array of opulent scents, specifically crafted to invoke feelings of …

  • Energy
  • Relaxation
  • Tranquility
  • Homeostasis
  • Obtundity
  • Serenity; and all-out 
  • Chillaxation

… you're sure to find the perfect candle for every mood.

Indulge your senses today — with Aroma-sthesia®.

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