Market Insights

Basel, 30 September 2021

CITROFOL® AI as denaturant

Alcohol intended for human consumption is subject to excise duty in the EU. Alcohol not intended for human consumption, is exempt from excise duty and must therefore be denatured according to required procedures prescribed at national level (Directive 92/83/EEC, Article 27). For this purpose, certain substances (denaturants) are added to the ethanol in order to make it unusable for drinking and consumption purposes and thereby practically exclude any improper use.

A distinction is made between completely and partially denatured alcohol. According to the EU Regulation 3199/93, alcohol can be completely denatured in a majority of Member States by the following processes: per 100 litres of absolute alcohol three litres of isopropyl alcohol (IPA), three litres methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) or one gramm denatonium benzoate have to be added. However, there are also application areas, for which the practices of complete denaturation are not suitable. Therefore, the Member States can grant an authorisation for partial denaturation on national level. A partially denatured end product produced in a member state in accordance with EU regulations can circulate freely in the internal market without the need for accompanying documentation.

In cosmetic and personal care applications ethanol is widely used for multiple purposes like for example as solvent or preservative. As completely denatured ethanol is not suitable for some cosmetic applications, several Member States approved multiple denaturants for partial denaturation. The most commonly used denaturants in cosmetics are Phthalates, esp. Diethyl phthalate (DEP), Isopropyl alcohol (IPA), tert-Butyl alcohol (TBA) and Denatonium benzoate. These substances are of petrochemical origin and beyond that suspected of being harmful to human health. Therefore more and more natural and safe alternatives for these denaturants are being sought in the personal care industry.

CITROFOL® AI, triethyl citrate, is a 100% bio-based product that is manufactured by acidic esterification of the natural products citric acid and ethanol. In the personal care and cosmetic industry, CITROFOL® AI is widely used due to its multifunctional properties. It is well known as solvent, diluent and fixative in perfumes or emollient in skin care products. In deodorants it functions as an active ingredient by inhibiting the enzymatic decomposition of sweat components. CITROFOL® AI is a raw material perfectly suited for natural cosmetics since it is approved by ECOCERT GREENLIFE and conform to COSMOS Standard, respectively. In addition to its numerous benefits in cosmetic and personal care applications, CITROFOL® AI is also suitable as denaturant due to its extremely bitter taste.

Companies wishing to use ethanol that is denatured with alternative substances must apply for an individual permit for tax-free use. This approval of a special denaturant depends on the respective intended use. The corresponding application form may indicate that the company intends to use CITROFOL® AI as denaturant. Provided that the special denaturant is a denaturant that is generally authorised in other EU Member States, the authorisation is typically granted.

In conclusion, Jungbunzlauer CITROFOL® AI can function as natural alternative to conventional denaturants and can additionally provide secondary functionality for the development of safe and sustainable cosmetic and personal care products.