Friday, 15:53 Date 14/04/2023

What materials were used to synthesize the world's first perfume? It can be said that natural substances are separated such as essential oils and its compounds. Benzaldehyde can be the first, it has an almond and sweet odor. The next substance is Coumarin.

There are many plants that contain Coumarin. It is found in nature in high concentrations in tonka beans, vanilla, sweet clover and in Cassia Cinnamomum, which is grown mainly in China and Vietnam. Cassia cinnamon essential oil contains from 1-5% Coumarin.

Coumarin was first found in 1820 in tonka and sweet clover by August Vogel. He mistook coumarin for benzoic acid. In same year, French pharmacist Nicholas Jean Baptiste Gaston Guibourt discovered the mistake and named the new compound "Coumarin" (from the French name for the tonka bean, coumarou). In 1856, Friedrich Woehler determined the structure of coumarin, and in 1868, William Henry Perkin first synthesized it in the laboratory. Ten years later (1877) he invented the industrial production process of this substance.

In 1884, Paul Parquet, owner and perfumer of Houbigant, created the perfume Fougère Royale, which is said to be the first perfume to contain synthetic ingredients (its main scent was created). from lavender, oak moss and coumarin). Fougère Royale has about 10% coumarin. From that moment, we begin the modern era in the history of perfumery.

About 90% of modern perfumes contain coumarin, which you can easily detect by looking at the ingredient list on the perfume packaging. Out of 10 perfumes, there are 9 types that contain Coumarin and its composition accounts for more than 1%.

From a scientific point of view, coumarin is a lactone, an internal (cyclic) ester. Many lactones, used in perfumery, often have a characteristic fatty waxy odor, reminiscent of coconut and milk. Aromatic substances, structurally similar to coumarin, have similar scents: nutty, vanillic, creamy. The use of coumarin is limited to 1.6% in the final perfume product and even less, up to 0.1% in cosmetic products. All similar compounds fall under the same regulations.

Tonka beans - the fruit of Dipteryxodorata, a tropical plant native to Central and South America - contain 1-3% coumarin. Whole Tonka Beans contain 90% coumarin. On aged tonka beans, you may notice small white crystals; This is in fact coumarin in its pure form! Tonka beans are used to make desserts, air fresheners, and even as an insect repellent. As a flavoring, coumarin has been banned for use in the food industry in many countries, which I consider clear overuse; you can find it in perfectly legal cinnamon in the amount of 1%.

Coumarin has been widely used in the flavoring of pipe tobacco and tobacco. Its sweet smell is now combined with the tobacco scent. Although pure tobacco does not contain any appreciable amounts of coumarin, it is often combined with coumarin in tobacco compounds in perfumery.

One of the most popular horror stories about coumarin is that it is rat poison. The origin of this mistake is easy to understand, but we need to learn a bit of history. All was well when a major disease outbreak associated with impaired blood clotting in cattle was recorded in North America in the early 20th century. It was discovered that forage silage soursop for infected cattle is made from sweet clover (of the genus Melilotus). In the 1940s, the harmful compound of sweet clover was isolated, which is Dicoumarin, which has strong anticoagulant properties. Subsequently, many similar compounds (4-Hydroxycoumarin derivatives) were described and isolated. In 1948, Warfarin was synthesized. The substance was patented as a rat poison that was very popular until more modern rat poisons were invented. By the 1950s, Warfarin had become a popular anticoagulant to prevent blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots.

Furanocoumarins, or Furocoumarins, also known as Phyto-Coumarins, occur in many plants. They create a photosensitive effect. One of them is Bergapten from bergamot, which makes its oil a plant poison. Large amounts of Bergapten are even found in Sosnowsky weed or Heracleum sosnowskyi, a dangerous flowering weed. Bergapten easily penetrates the skin and causes severe sunburn.

Although coumarin has such a fearsome relative, it is still very much in demand in perfumery and cooking (mainly tonka beans and cinnamon).

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