Extraordinary Esters

By Dr Frances Wright

Esters are commonly encountered in nature. This Organic chemistry functional group is characterised by a carbon bound to three other atoms. The structure is that of a single bond to a carbon, a double bond to an oxygen and a single bond to an oxygen. The singly bound oxygen is bound to another carbon. Reportedly, the name of the Ester usually comes from the parent alcohol and acid.

Each type of Ester has its own qualities and uses, although there are some similarities between them. We have outlined four of our top Esters below:


  • NERYL ACETATE: This Ester is found in cardamom, citrus, kumquat, ginger, clary sage, myrtle berries and myrtle leaf. As its name suggests, Neryl acetate is an acetate ester formed from the formal condensation of the hydroxy group of nerol with the carboxy group of acetic acid. In flavours and fragrances it is a flavouring agent used to give fruity and floral aromas and flavours.


  • GERANYL ACETATE: This natural organic compound is classified as a monoterpene. It is a natural constituent of a large number of essential oils, including but not limited to; Ceylon Citronella, Lemongrass, Palmarosa, Petit Grain, Geranium, Neroli, Carrot, Coriander, Camden and Sassafras. Geranyl acetate comes in the form of a colourless liquid and it boasts a floral or fruity rose aroma. The uses for Geranyl acetate vary. Some of the most common uses are: as a food additive and flavouring agent; an odour agent in air-care products; used in laundry and dishwashing products; and to enhance household cleaning products.


  • MENTHYL ACETATE: Commonly contributing to the flavour and smell of peppermint, this ester is a natural monoterpene which is made up of three to five percent of the volatile oil Mentha Piperita. Menthyl acetate is colourless to a pale yellowish colour and is a liquid. It has a minty flavour and smell. Its odour has been described as weedy, fruity, berry and earthy. It is most commonly used as a flavouring agent in mint and cool food. Other uses include: air care products; personal care products; paper and cleaning; and furnishing care products.


  • ETHYL BUTYRATE: Ethyl Butyrate is found in a variety of fruits. It is most commonly known as being present in apples. This ester is usually used as a flavouring agent and is a clear and colourless liquid. Ethyl Butyrate is considered to have a scent and taste much like pineapple and its appealing taste and smell makes it one of the most widely used esters for flavouring. Other uses include: fragrances; perfume; air-care products; and as a plasticiser for cellulose.


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