Veterans Can Now Experience the Smell of Freedom Long After Leaving the Military

(Billington Farms)

The smell of napalm in the morning might smell like victory, but everyone knows that freedom smells like jet fuel, usually in the form of JP-8, the military's name for its widely used aviation fuel.

There's nothing that brings many of us back to our days in the military (especially for us former airmen) like the smell of burning jet fuel. Unless you live next to an airport, however, chances are good that's not a smell that gets in our nose very often.

It no longer has to be that way. Land O Lakes, Florida-based Billington Farms has produced a candle that replicates the smell of jet fuel. The Navy struggles to keep actual jet fuel out of their water supplies, but the candle brings all the flightline nostalgia without the carcinogens.

It's a soy wax candle in a reusable container too, so there's no waste and no contribution to climate change. At the price of $24, it's also more cost effective than a flight hour of a C-17 Globemaster III, which is roughly $23,000.

If jet fuel sounds like an odd scent choice for a candle company, think again. The candlemakers at Billington Farms actually seek out new scents unlikely to be found anywhere else, and do that by talking to people from all walks of life. That the website has sold out of the candle in the past is proof positive that they're on to something.

Billington Farms talked to pilots, flight attendants and travelers to discover just what it was about the smell of burning aviation fuel that attracted so much attention and love. They discovered that, like many scents, it brings people back to some of the best times of their lives.

Some of us can smell this photo. (Tony Landis)

"We were pleased to discover that the number one emotion that is evoked when smelling jet fuel is excitement," the website says. "Normally when one is smelling jet fuel, they are getting ready to take off on an adventure. It was important for us to evoke that excitement with the scent of our candle. This is where the strong scent of fuel comes into play, and is the top note for our jet fuel candle."

Since the candlemakers consulted civilian airline pilots and crews, the jet fuel smell may not totally match the military's version. Civilian aircraft commonly use Jet A1 fuel. The military version, JP-8, is Jet A1 that includes a corrosion inhibitor and anti-icing additives.

For those who think the smell of aviation fuel isn't going to trigger their memory, think again. The same fuel used to power military jet engines is also used for Navy construction equipment and can be used as fuel for field heaters, tanks and other equipment. It's also used as a diesel fuel replacement in many ground vehicles -- a little love for the smell of freedom for all of us to share.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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