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Rapid Method for The Gas Chromatographic Quantitative Analysis to Determinate Safrole in Commercial Essential Oils

Journal of Cosmetic Science | Vol. 69 No. 2
Authored by Sheng-Ching Chan, Youk-Meng Choong and Shun-Hsiang Weng


Safrole is a well-known carcinogenic agent that is present in camphor trees. In this study, a gas chromatographic method was established to quantitate the levels of safrole in essential oils using n-decyl alcohol as an internal standard. The method used a nonpolar column and was able to detect concentrations of safrole as low as 5 µg\/ml in the samples. Following addition of 2–10 mg of safrole into 1 g of essential oil extracted from Stout Camphor wood ( Cinnamomum kanehirai Hayata) or 1–10 mg of safrole into 1 g of essential oil extracted from Small-flower Camphor wood (C innamomum micranthumHayat), the recovery rates of safrole were determined. With direct injection of samples into the gas chromatograph, the results showed that the recovery was more than 96.1%, with a coefficient of variation below 5.6%. We then analyzed 23 commercially available Stout Camphor and other essential oil samples and found that 21 of them contained safrole in the range of 37.65–355.07 mg\/g. In addition, in the heavier essential oil distilled from Small-flower Camphor wood, the safrole level was up to 642.98 mg\/g. Our results demonstrated that most camphor essential oils on the market have a carcinogenic potential due to their high safrole levels.

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