At the research and development department in Albert Vieille company, the laboratory team work in close collaboration with public research institutes, to contribute to the expansion of information and understanding of natural raw materials.

Despite all the knowledge gathered since always regarding Olibanum history and characteristics, the specific molecules responsible for the so peculiar “Church smell”, have never been picked out. In fact, those analysis were too complex to lead, and there are not enough fragrant molecules in the raw material.

In this context, Albert Vieille SAS and Nicolas Baldovini, from the research institute of Nice University, started a partnership. The goal was clear: identify the specific molecules responsible for the so peculiar “Church smell” in Olibanum essential oil.

Albert Vieille selected and provided mainly the Olibanum essential oil, useful for the research. It has taken time before Nicolas Baldovini and his team succeeded to pick out the molecules. It has required several fractionations under vacuum, extractions and chromatographic separations. Then essential oil and all the fractions obtained from the different separation steps, were analysed by gas chromatography-olfactometry (GC-O). At the end a panel of expert, trained to describe fragrant molecules and their olfactory impacts, evaluated the results.

The result has reinforced the main idea: the fragrant molecules responsible for the so peculiar « church smell » exist in a really small quantity in the essential oil. Then a Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis determined the molecule structure and their synthesizing confirmed their identities. A patent has been registered for the discovery.

The two molecules, responsible for the so peculiar « church smell » are
(+)-trans- and (+)-cis-2-octylcyclopropyl-1-carboxylic acids All the results have been published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition review and in a CNRS press release.