Scratch and Sniff Stickers – SmellStickers

The magic of scratch and sniff stickers


Creative Teaching Press (CTP), Trend Enterprises, and Mello Smello are just some of the companies that had marketed the immensely popular ‘scratch and sniff’ stickers in the 80’s. The 3M corporation invented microencapsulated fragrances that were later incorporated into matte paper stickers and became the scratch and sniff stickers we know today. Although scratch and sniff stickers were available only through educational catalogues, they were soon available for ‘non-educational’ purposes also.

How scratch and sniff stickers work

Scratch and sniff stickers use a technology called microencapsulation. Microencapsulation is designed to trap the aroma generating chemical and encapsulate it in small gelatin or plastic spheres. The spheres are extremely small and are no more than a few microns in diameter. Since all fragrance is essentially vapor, the spheres actually act as store houses of fragrance. When the sticker is scratched, the microcapsules rupture releasing the fragrance. Before microencapsulation, the best a manufacturer could do was capture fragrance in fragrance sticks or in absorbent materials. Microencapsulating is a much more effective way of trapping fragrance.

What is equally impressive about microencapsulation technology is that scratch and sniff stickers can retain their fragrance for years. Scratch and sniff stickers were made in both matte and glossy finish, but only matte paper was capable of trapping fragrances effectively and glossy finish stickers lost their fragrance much sooner.

Modern day scratch and sniff stickers

Modern day scratch and sniff stickers are still made using microencapsulation technology. However, scratch and sniff technology is now used for more than just stickers. Today, CDs, stamps, educational materials, and stationery are made using microencapsulation to treat them with fragrance. Modern day scratch and sniff stickers are recognizable by their glossy look and feel as they are made using a newer ‘acid free’ technology.

Scratch and sniff stickers as collectibles

Scratch and sniff stickers from the late 70s and early 80s are now collectibles. People all over the world buy scratch and sniff stickers for their collector’s value and appeal. They are mostly sold on the popular marketplace, Ebay. The matte sniff stickers demand a higher price tag due to their ability to retain fragrance for many years. In fact, some of the more rare matte stickers can cost as much as $10-20 per sticker.

The future of scratch and sniff stickers

The Chinese believe that certain fragrances can help people de-stress and relax. Although scratch and sniff stickers have probably not been used in aroma therapy, there is no denying that a simple smell can liven a person’s mood. Scratch and sniff stickers are still popular with children, and are used by teachers and dentists for appreciating children of all age groups. The appeal of scratch and sniff stickers has continued throughout the years. In fact, there has been a recent increase in scratch and sniff stickers sales, and companies like Allie, Inc. are now offering scratch and sniff stickers again.

To buy scratch and sniff stickers, as well as Scratch and Sniff sticker Collector’s Albums, scented stationery, and gift packs online visit

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