APRC logo
Marker Formation in Synthetic Methyl Salicylate
Wintergreen and Birchwood essential oils contain more than 98% methyl salicylate. As high priced essential oils, they are prone to adulteration by synthetic methyl salicylate derived from phenol (a fossil fuel-based precursor). Any addition of synthetic methyl salicylate to wintergreen or birch wood oil would not change the percentages of minor components significantly. So the monitoring of minor components fails in the case of wintergreen or birch wood essential oil adulteration. Chiral ratios of pure essential oil components is another way to authenticate any essential oil containing chiral molecules, but methyl salicylate is a non-chiral molecule, and a chiral GCMS is not going to work in this case.   Synthetic methyl salicylate is derived from the petrochemical-based precursor phenol, so C14 testing could be the best way for detecting adulteration like this. APRC has observed several times C14 testing has limitations on identifying synthetic methyl salicylate as well. Accuracy percentages vary between 3-5% in detecting synthetic methyl salicylate by C14 testing.   APRC has realized that the synthetic marker-based technique is more reliable than other techniques for some adulteration. In a synthetic process of methyl salicylate from phenol, it produces a trace byproduct called Dimethyl 2-hydroxyterephthalate, which is a synthetic marker of methyl salicylate. If any lab knows how to detect those markers properly, they will be able to see such tiny synthetic markers, even upon the addition of less than 1% synthetic methyl salicylate in any wintergreen or birchwood essential oils. Here is the synthetic route and mechanism of marker formation in synthetic methyl salicylate.
The LC-MS: How We Test for Pesticides
APRC uses the LC-MS to test for pesticides in essential oil samples. See how the instrument works.
Listen to our chemist explain how a GC-MS works.

Lab Science Videos

Chemical reactions, instrument instructions, GCMS, LCMS, candid conversations about lab science, and so much more.

GC-MS Machine diagram
Synthetic Methyl Salicylate diagram
LC-MS Machine diagram
Scientist looking at samples
Watching videos on the couch

Lab Science



APRC® engages with a diverse group of clients with a variety of backgrounds and needs. We are committed to providing a wide range of aromatic plant product analyses in addition to producing top-notch research and developing new technologies.

We look forward to sharing our groundbreaking discoveries as we progress in our mission to produce uncompromising research, analysis, and testing services to the broader essential oil, extracts, and products produced from aromatic plants from around the world.

© 2021 by Aromatic Plant Research Center

Aromatic Plant Research Center (APRC) is a state-of-the-art laboratory that utilizes a variety of methods to detect adulteration and confirm the purity of natural products. Our executive advisory board is internationally renowned for quality control testing and expertise within the aromatic plant industry.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.


Aromatic Plant Research Center

230 N 1200 E. 

Suite 100

Lehi, Utah 84043


Thanks for submitting!