Student Research Projects

Comparison of the Chemical Composition and Human Detection of Odorants in Commercial Fragrances

Student Jacob Newton
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course Bio 489 : Research in the Natural Sciences


This study is a semester long experiment that compares the organic compounds within essential oils found in commercial perfumes and fragrances, and the ability of humans to detect and distinguish odorants. Perfumes and fragrances have various organic compounds present, many of which contribute to the scent or odor of the fragrance. These odors can be attractive or unattractive based on the essential oil present, and the organic compound responsible for an odor. The organic compounds present in a high grade perfume and a low grade fragrance, using the same essential oil, were extracted and the components separated by gas chromatography. The chemical composition of each fragrance will be compared to each other to determine similarities and differences in the components present in the different grades of similar fragrances. Purified essential oil components, including the human pheromone, will be analyzed by gas chromatography to identify some of the components in the fragrances. Human subjects will be used for odorant detection to determine whether humans can distinguish between the low and high grade fragrance and perfume.