If we hold a rose in front of our nose for an hour, we can barely notice the smell after that duration, since the smell receivers ( Or the brain, I'm not an expert ) get used to it, and become sort of deaf.

Now my question is, are we deaf to the smell or taste of water simply because our body is consisted mostly of water and we are deaf to it, or is it because we do not have any receiver for this liquid?

If so, is this shared between all the living organisms?


By water, I mean pure water. Now what we practically have is never 100% pure, but a good place to start is distilled water.

I've come across multiple articles about this, but they lack of evidence and scientific proofs.

These are 3 of them:

  1. Ask Anything: What Does Water Taste Like?
  2. Does ordinary water really have no taste [...]
  3. Water taste in man
  • $\begingroup$ Have you done any research into this, and if so, can you include it? And what do you define as "water"? Pure (e.g. twice distilled) water? Tap water? Spring water? Because water isn't pure. FWIW, I used to laugh at the bottled water industry; my well water tasted just fine. Until 15 years later when I had a deacidifier added, then I really disliked it (but still didn't buy it, just filtered it.) Recently I moved, and I refuse to drink what the township calls drinking water (tastes terrible!) I found a bottled water that I absolutely love. Anecdotal? Yes. Rare? Not at all. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Jul 30 '17 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Jack Johansson like u said " body is consisted mostly of water " if this were true what implication would it have to bear gustato or olfactory receptors which would permanently be in its adaptive form (about which u meant by the smell of rose part) throughout one's life?secondly there are osmoreceptors in the hypothalamus and in kidneys too that handle body water content changes. $\endgroup$ – user 33690 Jul 30 '17 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ ...besides there is a constant secretion of mucus in the nasal epithelium and saliva in the tongue both of which have water.so dont u think that water receptors (even if present) would always remain in adaptive state.Thus holds no meaning i think $\endgroup$ – user 33690 Jul 30 '17 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ Just anecdotat, but if you spend a lot of time in the outdoors in semi-arids areas, as I do, you learn to smell water. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 30 '17 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ @CATHARANTHUS: Though I think you may mean something a bit different, "the smell you get after rain": discworldtour.tumblr.com/post/158020764568/… But you can smell rain coming, too. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 31 '17 at 17:52

It appears that little is known regarding how water is detected in mammalian mouth and throat. However, a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience(1) showed that acid-sensing taste receptor cells (TRC) participate in taste responses to water.

First, the team screened knock-out mice in order to identify which TRC were involved:

They used genetic knockout mice to look for the cells, silencing different types of TRCs, then flushing the rodents’ mouths with water to see which cells responded. “The most surprising part of the project” was that the well-known, acid-sensing, sour TRCs fired vigorously when exposed to water, Oka says. When given the option of drinking either water or a clear, tasteless, synthetic silicone oil, rodents lacking sour TRCs took longer to choose water, suggesting the cells help to distinguish water from other fluids.(2)

Then, the acid-sensing TRCs thus identified were artificially activated using optogenetics techniques:

They bred mice to express light-sensitive proteins in their acid-sensing TRCs, which make the cells fire in response to light from a laser. After training the mice to drink water from a spout, the team replaced the water with an optic fiber that shone blue light on their tongues. When the mice “drank” the blue light, they acted as though they were tasting water, Oka says.(2)


(1) Zocchi, D., Wennemuth, G., Oka, Y., The cellular mechanism for water detection in the mammalian taste system, Nature Neuroscience 20, 927–933 (2017) doi:10.1038/nn.4575

(2) Scientists discover a sixth sense on the tongue—for water, Science

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the links. However, it would be nice to include some important sections of the articles as quotes, for further visitors. $\endgroup$ – Jack Johansson Jul 31 '17 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ @JackJohansson I tried to do so. Hope it's better now. However, I don't quote the original study, because I don't have full access... $\endgroup$ – Flo Jul 31 '17 at 8:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JackJohansson If my answer is now satisfactory enough to you, will you please consider accepting it? Thanks! :) $\endgroup$ – Flo Aug 1 '17 at 9:45

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