At school we're told that the receptors for smell (olfactory receptors) are present in the Schneiderian membrane. But I've noticed that I'm only able to detect smells only while I breathe and not when I hold my breath.
I even tried an experiment to confirm my observations and the results were positive. I placed an open bottle of really strong perfume fairly close to my nose, and lightly inhaled. I could easily detect the smell. But as soon as I hold my breath I'm not able to smell it anymore, even though I placed the bottle right under my nose I wasn't able to smell anything. Immediately I moved the bottle away, walked into another room and took a breath, and the smell of perfume was so strong it made me choke.
I guess this 'experiment' of mine contradicts what we've been taught. That Olfactory receptors present in the nasal passage simply pick up traces of molecules (in this case, perfume) and this is perceived as smell, since by keeping the bottle right under my nose the perfume would've already diffused into the air in large quantities and would've already entered the nasal passage, yet I was unable to detect it.
So my question stands, 'Why is it that I can only detect smells if I breathe, and not when I hold my breath?'