Smell test explanation

A smell test assesses the ability of test subjects to perceive, distinguish, or identify odors. Most ENT practices or ENT departments from hospitals use the Burghart’s smell tests: ODOFIN Sniffin’ Sticks or the Sensonics scratch-and-smell booklets. The Sniffin’ Sticks se are pens filled with recognizable odors that allow you to test the sense of smell in a reliable and validated way. The Sensonics smell test booklets are also validated and contain encapsulated (scratch & sniff) odors. On this page more information about the available smell tests and the test procedure for the smell tests.

Which smell test?

There are different smell tests, each with a different application. The available Sniffin’ Sticks smell tests are:

screening 12 test
Smell test with 12 Sniffin’ Sticks

The above smell tests can be performed together as an extended test or separately as individual tests. In many cases, a short basic smell test with 12 (or 16) scents is conducted, where the test person is given a 4-answer multiple choice card. After smelling the stick, the test person must select an odour from the card and repeat this for all the sticks. With this simple smell test, the general answer can be given as to whether someone has normosmia, hyposmia or anosmia, for example.

Based on the results, a decision can be made to perform additional testing or conduct further research. This can mean, for example, that a discrimination or threshold test is carried out.

Purpose of a smell test

An olfactory test is used to determine whether an olfactory disorder is present. If this is the case, it is important to determine which olfactory disorder is present. This examination is carried out by a doctor or a medical assistant in an ENT practice (or ENT department in a hospital) and consists of examining the nose, filling out a questionnaire and the smell test. Of course, this can vary depending on the practice, for the exact details we always advise you to contact the responsible ENT practice.

Which smell disorders are there?

After the examination and taking the smell test, it can be determined whether an olfactory disorder is present. The different olfactory disorders are:

  • Anosmia: Total loss of the sense of smell.
  • Hyposmia: Decreased sense of smell.
  • Parosmia: Odors are registered differently than usual. A distinction can be made between euosmia (present odors are perceived as pleasant odors) and troposmia (present odors are perceived as foul or unpleasant odors).
  • Phantosmia: Perceived an odor that is not actually there. This is what is known as an olfactory hallucination. When it comes to unpleasant odors, this disorder is called cacosmia.
  • Hyperomsia: Intense perception of odors such that the odors smell stronger than normal.
  • Agnosmia: Smells are perceived but the person cannot name them.

Available smell tests

As already mentioned, the ODOFIN Sniffin’ Sticks from Burghart are sticks that are filled with different odours. We can deliver all of the Sniffin’ Sticks worldwide. Of course, if you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us via

upsit smell identification test
UPSIT smell test with 40 odours

Another option is the Sensonics scratch-and-sniff smell tests. These Sensonics odor tests are for single use and particularly suitable for remote tests and for large investigations where the test persons cannot reach the test location. Examples of the Sensonic smell tests are the 40-item UPSIT, Brief Smell Identification Test (B-SIT) and the pocket smell tests.

Taste tests

It is also possible to test the taste ability, this can be done with the help of our taste strips. In some practices, in addition to a smell test, you can also test with taste strips to check whether the test person can perceive the tastes. The available taste tests are:

  • basic taste test: sweet, sour, bitter and salty in the highest concentration
  • complete taste test: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and control strips in 4 different concentrations
  • umami taste test in 4 different concentrations as an addition for the complete taste test.

Smell test or smell training

We see that the terms smell training and smell testing are often confused. The smell tests are validated tests to determine smell loss. The smell training sets, on the other hand, were developed exclusively for training the sense of smell after smell loss. Therefore, smell training cannot be used to reliably test the sense of smell. If you want more information about smell training, please read this page where we have collected all information about smell training.