Smell is one of the five senses in the human body. Humans have 390 olfactory receptors (GPCRs) that can sense substances in the air. These olfactory receptors are equivalent to highly sensitive detectors. For example, as long as the concentration of ketones and some thiols containing grapefruit ketones in the air reaches about 100pt, people can perceive them. The concentration of 10ppt is equivalent to the concentration of the compound in the swimming pool after dropping 1 drop of the compound in a 25-meter standard swimming pool.
Classification of spices:
Fragrances can be roughly divided into two categories: synthetic fragrances and natural fragrances.
Natural spices are spices obtained by steam distillation, extraction, pressing, etc., so the price, collection volume and quality will change, and the price of spices will also fluctuate and easily become higher. For example, the natural spice muscone ((R)-3-methylcyclopentadecanone) obtained from male musk deer has been regarded as a rare spice because of its unique aroma and rarity. In order to obtain musk, people once slaughtered musk deer to the brink of extinction, and then the Washington Treaty was introduced, and the killing was controlled and regulated. Therefore, musk, a natural fragrance, is mostly obtained through synthesis.
The output, aroma and quality of synthetic spices are very stable, so the price fluctuates little and the price is low. There are 500 main synthetic fragrances, and if some small ones are counted, there are more than 3000 kinds. Now the production of synthetic fragrances has greatly exceeded the types of natural fragrances.
There are other uses of spices, which are roughly divided into two categories: the flavor of the food we eat (food spices, condiments) and perfumes, the aroma of toilet water, and the aroma of detergents (cosmetic spices, perfumes). The market size of these two types of spices is similar in the world.
Properties of Fragrance Compounds
What kind of compounds can be used as spices? The general fragrances are mostly volatile substances with a molecular weight between 100-300, and the number of carbon atoms does not exceed 20. They are hydrophobic but also slightly soluble in water and can bind to olfactory receptors.
In fragrances, API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients: the original drug of active pharmaceutical ingredients) and Agrochemical (agrochemical fragrances) have very few molecules containing aromatic rings or molecules containing many heteroatoms (if the molecules contain If there are many heteroatoms, the molecule will have no odor). Most fragrance molecules are composed of carbon atoms, hydrogen atoms, and oxygen atoms, and some fragrance molecules contain nitrogen atoms or sulfur atoms. Although there are very few optically active molecules among the lower molecular weight molecules, there are exceptions: menthol, in some optically active molecules, the substances composed of different optical isomers also have different odors.
The smells we usually smell in our lives come from mixtures of dozens or hundreds of compounds, so even if we feel very bad, GC-MS-O analysis shows that the mixture is mixed with substances that have aromas. Of course, there are also very bad-smelling substances in this pile of mixtures. Specifically, you can refer to the research on the odor components emitted by the giant flower konjac.
Aromas emitted by the combination of different compounds
The most important thing for fragrance compounds is the combination of compounds. Fragrance is a mixture of compounds in a certain proportion, so that a complex aroma can be obtained that cannot be emitted by a single compound. This technique of combining different compounds comes from the perfumer's training process and the accumulation of process knowledge (know-how), so this matching technique is not as simple and easy as we think.
France and other countries have specialized perfumer colleges. If you want to become a perfumer, you must first memorize more than 2,000 raw material names and their corresponding aromas, and then repeatedly practice using several to dozens of spices to prepare the aroma. , After accumulating about 10 years of experience, you can become a qualified perfumer. It's really not easy to be a perfumer.
Synthesis of spices
When you are synthesizing volatile substances, if the amount of solvent is small, because the volatile substances will volatilize and disappear immediately, it is obvious that the synthesis of a simple substance fails unexpectedly. Have you ever encountered such a thing? A junior once asked me what should I do if I accidentally draw a vacuum when synthesizing volatile compounds and the compounds are gone?
Because of the volatile nature of fragrances, the crude product is not purified by crystallization like API or Agrochemical, but by distillation. The difficulty with fragrance manufacturing is that the distribution of impurities can adversely affect product quality. This problem is even more serious for substances with less intense aromas. Even 0.1% impurities that do not pose a threat to the safety of fragrances can make the aroma of the product very strange. In order to remove impurities, the separation yield was first reduced by 10%, and then 0.1% of impurities were removed by precision distillation.
In terms of manufacturing cost, it is not necessary to keep the cost as low as Agrochemical, but if the cost of the fragrance is as high as the API, it will not be sold, so the cost needs to be controlled between these two levels. In addition, when synthesizing fragrances, because there are too few oxygen-containing functional groups and heteroatoms that serve as strongholds for connecting molecular fragments, it is very difficult to synthesize small molecules efficiently and in a short path. Therefore, the development of synthetic processes depends on The chemists have used their brains.
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