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firefly5 April 2nd, 2016 7:05pm

Science Friday (1/3): Artificial flavors depend on volatile chemicals.

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DrDollylonglegs in the lab... again
04/02/16 1:34 pm

Argh! Tripped me up. I was thinking "no, they're aromatic compounds!" but you're right, if they can be smelled then they must be at least somewhat volatile... though not crazy-volatile like DCM!

susanr Colorado
04/02/16 12:19 pm

True. But isn't it true of natural flavors, too?

firefly5 the verse
04/02/16 12:28 pm

Absolutely. I was mostly playing off the common connotation of the word 'volatile.'

ronderman North Carolina
04/02/16 1:24 pm

And I fell into it. I had visions of exploding chemicals.

firefly5 the verse
04/03/16 1:34 pm

Volatile, as it turns out, means something different depending on if you're talking about chemicals or children.

ronderman North Carolina
04/03/16 1:47 pm

Wow! You ARE smart!😂😂

susanr Colorado
04/03/16 1:48 pm


firefly5 the verse
04/02/16 12:05 pm

A volatile chemical is one that can easily evaporate at room temperature. Our interpretation of flavor depends on taste and smell. Taste is a pretty crude sense, but our nose and brain pair up to be able to differentiate a lot of smells Previous estimates said this number was about 10,000, but a recent study suggests that the number could be closer to one trillion (source: That said, it makes a lot of sense that artificial flavors depend heavily on this sense of smell. In order to smell something, we have to inhale molecules, and in order to be able to inhale molecules, those molecules have to make it into the air. Volatile chemicals readily evaporate, meaning they will appear in rather high concentrations in the air near their source. Without this, we wouldn't taste much. (