Where Do You Find Benzaldehyde In The Environment?

Jan. 10, 2022


Benzaldehyde’s odor and taste are so unique and basic that it, in itself, forms an organoleptic class--benzaldehyde. The odor has a pleasant, sweet, aromatic note and the taste the same, with a slight, sweet, aromatic bite. We recall almonds, marzipan, peach pit meat and pistachio ice cream.


The industrial cliche for the product is “Bitter Oil of Almonds,” a name which has been misleadingly applied to the synthetic product since it emerged from tbe chemist’s flask before the year 1900. Small amounts of synthetic benzaldehyde produced from benzal chloride first appeared on the market as natural oil of bitter almonds about 1890, Since the price ratio between the natural product and the synthetic is significant (currently 100 to 1), the perfumer. flavorist and chemists have been constantly devising methods to differentiate the fraudulent product from the real thing.



The earliest detection methods utilized the precipitation of silver chloride by contacting the aqueous burned residues of benzaldehyde with a silver nitrate reagent. Subsequent methods developed for use by both the US Pharmacopoeia and the Food Chemical Codex employ the visible green-blue color induced in a bunsen burner flame by a copper screen that has been dosed with the product. As industry moved away from the commercial production of benzaldehyde(CAS: 100-52-7) from benzal chloride to direct oxidation of toluene, which yields a product free of chlorine, fraud detection required advanced techniques. 

At first, carbon-14 isotope analysis was successful in detecting synthetic aldehyde being offered as natural. However, the price differential of $1.00/lb for synthetic versus $100.00/lb for natural benzaldehyde prompted the spiking of the synthetic product with carbon-14 rich material. thus cloaking its nature. Carbon-13/carbon-12 ratios (13C/12C) proved ambiguous. The most recent successful method is deuterium/hydrogen isotope ratios.


Benzaldehyde is also used in dyes, fragrances

(perfumes, deodorants, etc.), pharmaceuticals

(drugs), personal care items (shave gels,

moisturizing gels/creams, bath soaps, etc.), as

artificial flavoring (cherry and almond flavors),

and as an additive for one or more types of

tobacco products. It is also used as a solvent

for oils, resins, and cellulose fibers.


Where do you find benzaldehyde in the environment? Everywhere. Benzaldehyde is naturally found in almonds, apples, peaches, cherry and apricot kernels, and other Prunus species (fruits that have pits). Benzaldehyde can also be naturally found in essential oils including hyacinth, citronella, orris, cinnamon, sassafras, labdanum (“rock rose”), and patchouli (type of mint). Benzaldehyde has also been found in melon, grapes, tea, and whisky. Benzaldehyde can also be found in combustion by-products in car and truck exhaust, wood fires, and tobacco smoke. A Swedish study of indoor dust detected benzaldehyde in 373 out of 389 homes. This suggests that the occurrence in the home would reflect its widespread use in household products. (Nilsson et al, 2005).

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