What Is The Most Bitter Chemical?


Most Bitter Chemical – Denatonium

Denatonium is the bitterest compound that has ever discovered. It’s usually called Denatonium Benzoate or Bitrex. The salts of denatonium are usually colorless and odorless solids. It is sold under the trade name of Bitrex®. The taste is so strong, however, that most people cannot tolerate a concentration of more than 30 parts per million of denatonium benzoate. Solutions of denatonium benzoate in alcohol or water are very stable and retain their bitter taste for many years. Exposure to light does not lessen the compound’s bitter taste.

How Denatonium Was Discovered?

It was discovered accidentally, when Macfarlan Smith of Edinburgh, Scotland study on local anesthetics in 1958.

Scottish pharmaceutical company was experimenting with the anesthetic lidocaine. It is often used in those gels which can help cool the pain of a sunburn. And most frequently used by the dentists and doctors because injecting lidocaine makes a small area of the body totally numb.

The researchers were trying to find out something better than lidocaine by adding benzyl group to the lidocaine. But ended up with something different compound known as denatonium. It is not a better numbing compound but turned out to the most bitter compound ever discovered.

Uses of Denatonium

It is commonly added to toxic liquids to deter people and pets from drinking them. For example, to methyl alcohol (methanol), bathroom cleaner, shampoo, soap, rat poison, nail polish remover, and antifreeze.’

The bitter-tasting compound is added to insulation to prevent rodents from chewing on wiring. It’s also used in products applied to skin/fingernails to help keep people from biting their nails or sucking their thumbs.

More about Denatonium

                                       Denatonium benzoate
                                      Most Bitter ChemicalMost Bitter Chemical
Systematic name N-benzyl-2-(2,6-dimethylphenylamino)-
N, N-diethyl-2-oxoethanaminium benzoate
Chemical formula C21H29N2O·C7H5O2
Molecular mass 446.58 g/mol
Density x.xxx g/cm³
Melting point 166-170 °C
Boiling point xx.x °C
CAS number [3734-33-6]
Disclaimer and references

Watch a video about Denatonium

Know more about Denatonium!

Further reading: History of Bitrex, Entropy.


Author: Wan


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