Towards a complete characterisation of guaiacwood oil

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Authors: Loïc Tissandié, Stéphane Viciana, Hugues Brevard, Uwe J. Meierhenrich, Jean-Jacques Filippi


Guaiacwood oil is a common perfume ingredient used in modern compositions for its suave woody-rosy scent. This essential oil is a byproduct of the timber industry obtained by hydrodistillation of the heartwood of Bulnesia sarmientoi, a tree native from Latin America. Despite being widely used in perfumery, guaiacwood oil has been poorly described in the past. This study aims at giving an in-depth characterisation of its chemical composition as well as disclosing the odorant compounds responsible for its characteristic fragrance. Our methodology was based on a combination of fractionation and analytical techniques, including comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and preparative capillary-gas chromatography. The entire analytical work led to the isolation of 20 constituents among which 14 have never been reported so far in natural extracts. Each isolated compound was fully characterised by spectroscopic methods. Finally, the accurate knowledge of the chemical composition permitted the identification of the odour-active constituents by gas chromatography-olfactometry.

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