Gas chromatography (GC) and mass spectrometry (MS) are two extremely powerful chemical techniques that have been used in a variety of applications since their inception. It wasn’t until the two techniques were coupled that the chemical analysis field changed forever. GC/MS has been used for forensic science cases, quality assurance and control, and is still one of the most utilized analysis technique in chemical research. This technique is the predominant technique used in the essential oil/ flavoring industry for identifying the chemical composition of a given product.

Gas chromatography is a process of chemical separation that has been used for decades to separate the most complex solutions of chemical compounds. Both gas separation and liquid separation are possible due to the high temperature of injection that turns the oil into vapor where it maintains its physical state throughout the separation process. This vapor travels along a column where its chemical and physical properties are determined based on its interaction with the column.

Some chemical constituents will interact with the column and some will not. By raising the temperature at a slow rate, a technician can create a temperature profile that can be used to separate the compounds. As the temperature increases, greater chemical separation can occur. Based on the temperature profile, a consistent and efficient analysis can occur. This is the key to the reproducibility of the method.

Each column differs chemically and physically. It is these differences that change how the separation will occur. Ultimately, they determine the order in which the constituents come out of the column.

As the chemicals leave the column, they reach the mass spectrum detector. This detector bombards the chemical compounds with a strongly charged force. The compound is then fragmented by a magnetic field into a unique configuration, like a fingerprint. An example of the results of this fragmenting can be seen in figure 2 below. It is fairly simple for small compounds but grows in complexity with larger compounds.

With this technique, a Certificate of Analysis is created that identifies the chemical percentages of a given essential oil, absolute, or CO2 extracted oil. Certificates of Analysis for each and every Ananda product can be found on this website. Our science department, run by Dr. Anthony Ferrari, PhD in Analytical Chemistry, and Lab Technician Mikella Zgliczynska, analyzes every essential and carrier oil that enters our facility.