The origins of vanillin

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Vanillin comes from vanilla.

This appeared to us in 1520, during the conquest of Mexico.
It was at this moment that the Spaniards discovered this new aroma.
Likewise, the discovery of its mode of pollination made it possible, from 1841, to intensify its cultivation on the island of Reunion.
Moreover, it is here that one of the best varieties of vanilla in the world is currently harvested.
However, this exceptional vanilla owes its characteristic flavor to the vanillin molecule.
The latter is a natural component of the vanilla aroma.
It is even the most important and most characteristic of the latter.
However, vanillin only represents 0.75 to 2% of the mass of a pod but is enough to give rise to an incredible smell.
Vanillin was extracted for the first time by the chemist Théodore Nicolas Gobly when he macerated vanilla in 85° alcohol.
He then succeeded in extracting vanillin from Lagos by ether extraction.
Obtaining vanillin
Several solutions are available to perfumers to obtain vanillin.
The first of these is extraction.
In this case, the aromatic vanilla molecules are taken using a solvent such as ethoxyethan or ethanol.
The vanilla pods are dispersed in the solvent and this is then separated from the substance obtained by evaporation.
The other way to obtain vanillin and create it synthetically.
Traditionally, this is done from eugenol.
However, the industrialization of obtaining vanillin today instead uses lignin or guaiacol.
Vanillin in perfumery
Today, chemistry having made considerable progress, it is possible to produce vanillin from numerous synthetic products.
This makes it possible to reduce costs and make industrial production cheaper, particularly for the food or perfume industry.
Thus, vanillin is produced from guaiacol, eugenol, an extract of cloves, lignin or curcumin, an extract of turmeric.
Nowadays, vanillin is used much more than vanilla itself given its attractive price.
Nevertheless, vanilla remains a prestigious ingredient present in luxury perfumes.

Written by: Keevans
Category: Perfumes
Published: May 15, 2024
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