All good scents are simply products of good chemistry, or rather good chemists. Companies spend quite a bit of cash on research and development, perfecting smells like a post-rainfall spring meadow without having to add any actual rain. Once a particular scent is conceived, scientists go to work trying to concoct the best recipe of aroma compounds--basically chemical solutions containing substances like vanillin (vanilla) or hexyl acetate (fruit)--until the desired scent is perfected. In the case of air fresheners for your car, a huge batch of the formula is drawn up and sprayed directly onto cotton-fibre card stock, which is better suited for absorbing. After an exact dosage is sprayed, the paper is allowed to dry before being cut into novelty shapes (grapes, pizza, pine trees, etc.) and packaged for shipment.
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Follow Your Nose
The other popular form of auto air freshener is the spray mist, which is just a concentrated form of the solution in a convenient spray bottle. A newer scent dispenser on the market modifies the popular home-oriented plug-in models to fit into your car's dashboard. Although some of the gel-based home models have come under close scrutiny from consumer groups for their use of toxic substances, auto-specific fragrances have proven to be free of harmful chemicals.
The Smell of Money
The air freshener business is a highly lucrative market that rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars per year for speciality shops and retailers. Exotic scents in the form of candles, sprays and plug-in gels line store shelves for customers to buy and rid their homes of unwanted odours, but the only alternative for the unpleasant smells of the family car are spray-mist pumps or the trusty freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror.