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Cover Story: Leaf Alcohol Preparation

By: Eliska Leitmannova and Libor Cerveny, Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague, Czech Republic
Posted: July 18, 2008, from the August 2008 issue of P&F magazine.

cis-Hex-3-en-1-ol and trans-hex-3-en-1ol are called leaf alcohols, though their aromas resemble freshly cut grass. Perfumers define their aroma more precisely: cis-hex-3- en-1-ol has powerful and intensely green grassy odor.1 Traces of cis-hex-3-en-1-ol are used in refreshing top notes in delicate floral fragrance types such as muguet and lilac; in addition, the alcohol is often used alongside geranium oil, galbanum, oakmoss, lavender and mint oils. trans-Hex-2-en-1-ol is powerful, fruity-green, slightly caramellic-fruity in its undertone, with an overall odor often compared to that of chrysanthemum foliage, or wine leaves. In flavors, traces are used in fruit complexes such as artificial strawberry.

The alcohols’ specific fragrant properties are determined by the presence of a double bond and geometric isomery on the molecule. cis-Hex-3-en-1-ol has a very pleasant fragrance, though the trans isomer has an oily touch and is not used in fragrance compositions. trans- Hex-2-en-1-ol lacks typical “green” odor, but is more fruity.

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