Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by WonderTeam. WonderTeam Wonders, “How do you freshen the air?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, WonderTeam!

We were jogging through the Wonderopolis woods the other day when we overheard the following conversation between a skunk and a platypus:

Platypus: Whew! What died in here?

Skunk: Hey! It wasn't me! The smeller's the feller.

Platypus: No, no! It's not you I smell.

Skunk: Wow! Now I smell it. What is that foul odor?

Platypus: Here it is. I think I found the culprit!

Skunk: What are those?

Platypus: They're the badger's dirty socks he wore yesterday when he was playing soccer.

Skunk: *Gag!* Get those out of here. I'm going to be sick!

Luckily, we happened to have an air freshener with us. We gave it to the skunk and he tied it under his nose until the platypus was able to dig a hole and bury the badger's socks.

Of course, if you play sports, you probably know that smell the platypus and skunk encountered. Soccer cleats, sweaty socks, and shin guards left in a closed bag overnight can generate a stunning stench that can almost knock you over the next time you open the bag.

Thanks to air fresheners, though, we can battle foul odors and return our environment to its normal, sweet-smelling state. Have you ever stopped to WONDER just how they work, though? Let's find out!

A trip to your local store will reveal a wide variety of air freshening products. There are candles you can light. Aerosol spray cans are also popular. You might have an air freshener that heats wax to emit a fragrance. There are even plug-in units that regularly release fragrances from essential oils into the air.

Different types of air fresheners work in different ways. There are three basic ways air fresheners fight bad odors, though. Some air fresheners mask the odor with stronger aromas. Other air fresheners fight to remove the particles in the air causing bad odors. Still others work within the nose to prevent you from smelling the odors in the first place.

Masking air fresheners are the most common. Most aerosol can air fresheners fall into this category. When you spray an air freshener into the air, the new fragrance overwhelms the senses and hides the offending scents.

Other types of air fresheners that use charcoal, silica gel, or an oxidizing agent work to remove the particles in the air causing bad odors. Some odors are caused by bacteria or other organic particles that can be cleaned out of the air by these types of air fresheners. Once the particles are gone, so is the bad smell!

Many cleaning products and waxes contain receptor blockers. When you smell these products, the special chemicals in them block your scent receptors from perceiving certain odors. Some people avoid these types of air fresheners, because they worry they may be unhealthy.

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