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About Scents, Christ­mas and SICRIT®

How does Christ­mas smell to you? Is it more spi­ces, like cin­na­mon or cloves? Or the fresh scent of a fir tree? Or per­haps a hot cup of steam­ing mull­ed wine? Just thin­king about the­se scents can be en­ough to put us in the Christ­mas spi­rit. Af­ter all, smells are ine­vi­ta­b­ly lin­ked to in­di­vi­du­al me­mo­ries and emo­ti­ons … And they can be io­ni­zed with the SICRIT source. We tal­ked to Lab Ma­na­ger & Ap­pli­ca­ti­on Spe­cia­list, Cia­ra Con­way, about Christ­mas smells and SICRIT.

Interview Ciara

First of all: How does Christ­mas ty­pi­cal­ly smell to you?

Cia­ra: To me, Christ­mas smells like fresh fir, moun­tain air, pep­per­mint, and ho­me­ma­de su­gar coo­kies with va­nil­la fros­ting.

Smells are clo­se­ly lin­ked to me­mo­ries. What kind of me­mo­ries do you have thin­king about fir, moun­ta­ins and ho­me­ma­de su­gar coo­kies?

Cia­ra: We have a tra­di­ti­on that every year, af­ter Thanks­gi­ving, we go to the moun­ta­ins and pick out a Christ­mas tree to cut down. Af­ter that, we bake fresh su­gar coo­kies and de­co­ra­te the new Christ­mas tree with or­na­ments and can­dy ca­nes. So all of the­se scents re­pre­sent a ye­ar­ly tra­di­ti­on that we have been do­ing for many ye­ars in our fa­mi­ly.

Our Lin­ke­dIn com­mu­ni­ty vo­ted their fa­vo­ri­te Christ­mas smells and ran­ked them for us:

  1. Spi­ces, like cin­na­mon and cloves
  2. Fir Tree
  3. Mull­ed Wine
  4. Oran­ges

How do the­se smells dif­fe­ren­tia­te from each other in a che­mi­cal sen­se?

Cia­ra: All of the­se com­pounds be­long to a com­pound class cal­led ter­pe­nes, which are of­ten re­spon­si­ble for the aro­ma and fla­vor of foods. The­se ty­pes of com­pounds can have very uni­que smells but look iden­ti­cal, with the only dif­fe­rence be­ing so­me­thing cal­led chi­ra­li­ty. It is so­me­thing that re­qui­res, in this case, po­la­ri­zed light to de­ter­mi­ne the dif­fe­rence.

How would you ana­ly­ze them che­mi­cal­ly and what should you pay par­ti­cu­lar at­ten­ti­on to?

Cia­ra: The stan­dard me­thod for the­se com­pounds, sin­ce they are re­la­tively vo­la­ti­le, is with gas chro­ma­to­gra­phy (GC). It is im­portant to pay at­ten­ti­on to the co­lumn and gra­di­ent me­thod used, sin­ce clear se­pa­ra­ti­on is ne­ces­sa­ry when deal­ing with the­se com­pounds. The re­ason for this is so­me­thing I pre­vious­ly men­tio­ned, which is how si­mi­lar the­se com­pounds can be in mass and struc­tu­re, but dif­fer at the chi­ral cen­ter. GC in com­bi­na­ti­on with the SICRIT SPME-Mo­du­le and a mass spec­tro­me­ter en­ables ana­ly­zing and clas­si­fi­ca­ti­on of the abo­ve men­tio­ned christ­mas­sy smells.

This sounds all very sci­en­ti­fic. What kind of ex­em­pla­ry use ca­ses are the­re for ana­ly­zing the­se smells?

Cia­ra: An ana­ly­sis of fla­vors is ne­ces­sa­ry when, for ex­am­p­le, one in­tends to pro­du­ce a pro­duct that spe­ci­fi­cal­ly in­cludes cer­tain aro­mas. Ho­we­ver, SICRIT, com­bi­ned with a mass spec­tro­me­ter, can also be em­ploy­ed in qua­li­ty con­trol to de­ter­mi­ne whe­ther the de­si­red aro­mas are pre­sent in a pro­duct and in what quan­ti­ty. This is pri­ma­ri­ly uti­li­zed in la­bo­ra­to­ries for food safe­ty ana­ly­sis, as well as in the food in­dus­try for de­ve­lo­ping new pro­ducts, such as soft drinks.

Thank you, Cia­ra, for sha­ring some in­sights on ana­ly­zing me­thods of Christ­mas smells!