The origins of vanillin
Vanillin takes its source from vanilla. This appeared to us in 1520, during the conquest of Mexico. It was at this moment that the Spaniards discovered this new aroma. Likewise, the discovery of its method of pollination made it possible, from 1841, to intensify its cultivation on Reunion Island. Moreover, it is here that one of the best varieties of vanilla in the world is currently harvested. However, this exceptional vanilla owes its characteristic flavor to the vanillin molecule. The latter is a natural component of the aroma of vanilla. It is even the most important and the most characteristic of the latter. However, vanillin represents only 0.75 to 2% of the mass of a pod but is enough to give rise to an incredible odor in it.Vanillin was extracted for the first time by the chemist Théodore Nicolas Gobly when he was macerating vanilla in alcohol at 85 °. He then succeeded in extracting the vanillin from Lagos by extraction with ether.
Several solutions are available to perfumers to obtain vanillin. The first of these is extraction. In this case, the aromatic vanilla molecules are removed using a solvent such as ethoxyethan or ethanol. The vanilla beans are dispersed in the solvent and the latter is then separated from the substance obtained by evaporation. The other way to get vanillin is to create it synthetically. Traditionally, this is done from eugenol. However, the industrialization of the production of vanillin today uses lignin or guaiacol instead.
Vanillin in perfumery
Today, with chemistry having made considerable progress, it is possible to produce vanillin from many synthetic products. This makes it possible in particular to reduce costs and make its industrial production less expensive, in particular for the food or perfume industry. Thus, vanillin is produced from guaiacol, eugenol, an extract of cloves, lignin or curcumin, an extract of turmeric. Nowadays, vanillin is used much more than the vanilla itself given its attractive price. Nevertheless, vanilla remains a prestigious ingredient present in luxury perfumes.