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Frankincense Adulteration

As a follow up to our live video this week, we’d like to share the GC-MS results for the frankincense oil we adulterated as well as its original oxidized state. We have also included a typical Boswellia carterii essential oil for reference.

The following report is is a typical result for Boswellia carterii essential oil. The alpha thujene is a little higher in this one, but overall it’s a decent representation of a pure carterii oil.

In the initial report of the oxidized frankincense, you can see that alpha thujene is high in this sample at around 34%. You can also see the para cymene is high at just under 11%, this indicated the limonene (which is very low in this result) has been oxidized into para cymene.

It’s common to refer to the type of adulteration Aaron did as “standardizing”, “compounding”, or “building.” At APRC, we refer to it primarily as “adulterating.” Here we have highlighted the components added in green. Compared to the original chemistry, you can see how these new results are much more appealing from a chemistry perspective and we have doubled the starting amount of oil. The aroma was also notably better. The synthetic markers highlighted in yellow are the indicators that this oil has been adulterated with synthesized chemicals as you saw Aaron do in the video. Now it’s important to note that the amount of the marker is not what is most telling, but its very presence is proof of adulteration. Even though 2,6 dimethyl octane is present at 0.02%, this, of course, does not mean the oil has only been adulterated by 0.02%. In this case, we added a significant amount of alpha pinene (which is what this is the marker for) and ended up extending the oil by more than 50%! We have highlighted 4 common markers, but this oil has more markers that have been identified by APRC during our years of research on adulteration detection. These other markers are our proprietary intellectual property.




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.

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