Can you smell a ghost? [What you should know]

You just bought a new home and suddenly noticed strange tobacco smells. It comes and goes, and you can’t for your life figure out the cause of it. Could it be that your home is haunted?

Distinctive, unexplainable, out-of-place smells that suddenly appear are often associated with hauntings. Tobacco and perfume scents are the most commonly reported scents. Other common smells are cooking, the ocean, and foal odors.

Even if hauntings are not scientifically proven, there are many records of strange smells and paranormal activity. The scent is often associated with the person haunting the site. Tobacco is one of the most common scents, but there are many more.

Do ghosts have a scent, smell, or odor?

It is thought that ghostsOpens in a new tab. and spirits manifest through smells and odors. There is no evidence of the existence of ghosts, but throughout history, scents have been strongly associated with a haunting. The smell often has historical connections – for example, the person’s perfume haunting the site.

It is not uncommon for foul odors to be connected with negative and demonic hauntings. It is always good to remember that the wicked are shape-shifters and can take any shape or form they wish. To lure you in, they tend to portray themselves as someone loveable as a child or loved one.

Paranormal smells are out-of-place, confined to spots, and without any explanation. It can be the scent of roses, lilac, jasmine, tobacco, tar, cooking, the ocean, or even cattle. The smells appear and disappear all of a sudden. Often smells are accompanied by other paranormal activities such as apparitionsOpens in a new tab., sounds, movements of objects, and cold spots.

Strange and unexplained smells might be due to hallucinations or the building itself. According to Rosemary Guiley, there are theories that houses might absorb scents. The smells might be released depending on weather conditions such as heat and humidity.


The most common smell associated with the ghostly activity is tobacco. Commonly, haunted places have occasional smells of cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and alike. Many people used tobacco back then, so it is not that surprising.

In some cultures, tobacco was a spiritual herb. The Native Americans, for example, regard tobacco as the most sacred herb of all. It was the herb given to the people by the creator. They offer tobacco to the spirits, bring peace, and cleanse. It is no wonder the smell of tobacco might linger in places with Native American hauntings. It is essential to approach these hauntings with dignity and respect.

If you notice a strange tobacco smell in your home, check if the scent enters via your ventilation. The cause of the smell might be natural. In one house we lived in, I was so puzzled by a strange tobacco smell that occurred from time to time. After some investigations, I discovered that the teenagers in the neighboring house were secretly smoking. The cause of the smell was not paranormal at all.

Floral smells

It is common to smell floral scents on haunted sites. The floral scent can be due to the person’s perfume that haunts the location used in life. It can also be garden flowers that fill the home with scents. The garden or flowers can be long gone, but the smell remains.

You will find common floral scents connected with paranormal activity in the list below. Flowers were commonly used as scents in perfumes as well.

  • Lilac
  • Roses
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Jasmine

If you encounter floral smells, check the history of the previous owners. You might get clues as to what the floral scents might mean – maybe the previous owners had a favorite perfume or flower? If there are relatives of the owners you can interview, you can ask about the scent. This is an excellent opportunity to identify who is haunting a home.

Other scents that I experienced in haunted places are pine and woodsy scents. This can be explained in a rural environment, but this might be a sign of haunting in cities. I believe that the scent might be residual from times before a building was on the site.

Foul smells

Foul smells that occur without explanation might be due to a hostile haunting. It is thought that the odor is a sign of the demonic.

In the list below, you will find familiar smells that might indicate a negative or demonic haunting.

  • Sulfur
  • Feces
  • Blood
  • Hot metal
  • Methane
  • Rotten flesh
  • Rotten egg
  • Rotten seafood
  • Vomit
  • Raw fish

As many things can cause foul odors, investigate the site thoroughly. Maybe the plumbing needs repair work; someone dropped a scrimp beside the trash can, the cat hid a rat behind the sofa, and the list goes on.

If you fear you might be dealing with a hostile haunting, I recommend that you read my article 9 signs a haunting is dangerous [Expert advice].

Final thoughts

In most cases, strange smells have a natural cause. It is easy to get carried away and freaked out if you read more into a situation than needed. It is not typical for a ghost manifests with scents or smells alone. Hauntings are often a combination of strange events – footsteps, voices, moved objects, and so forth.

When smells are caused by paranormal activity, it is often connected to the haunted spirit or site itself. Most hauntings are residual and repeatedly appear in the same area. Intelligent hauntings communicate with the help of the senses, such as scents, sound, and touch.

A great idea is to ask a friend to help you check for natural causes. We miss things when we are terrified. It is also good to know that most of them are friendly, even if you have a haunting in your home. It might be a loved one watching over you from the other side. It doesn’t have to be a scary creature from a Hollywood horror movie.

If you feel uncomfortable with the strange smells, you can always consult a paranormal investigator or trusted psychicOpens in a new tab. to do a sweep.


Claudette Beaulieu

A certified paranormal investigator, accredited demonologist, and psychic stuck in the Victorian era.

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