Can you get around the Benzyl Alcohol smell?

So I just used Geogard ECT for the first time today. The lotion had no fragrance, just a hydrosol. I used .80% in the formula. After I rub the lotion in I smelt this oh so familiar smell that I know too well from elementary school...Lice solution! Is there any way around that benzyl alcohol smell?


  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    What do you smell: Floral or bitter almonds/marzipan?
    Floral would be benzyl alcohol in its pure form and can be masked with other (floral) perfumes whereas 'marzipan' comes from the oxidation product benzaldehyde. This one is difficult to mask. Benzaldehyde increases with age of your product or the preservative, may be generated on skin upon UV irradiation... You could buy new product (might help but our noses are so sensitive to it that even fresh product quickly develops that flavour), stabilise your lotion with a good antioxidant if it only appears after production, add a UV filter if it only happens on sun exposed skin, or add some almond oil and call your product 'Pure Almond' (seriously!).
  • BelassiBelassi Member
    Use a different preservative. No point in banging your head against a wall.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • @pharma Floral? haha thats how you describe it? Yuck now way it (Geogard ECT) legit smells like head lice treatment. I wasnt sure what it was in the preservative. I looked up Benzy funky smell...and articals did pop up saying it did have a very off putting odor so I can only assume thats what is making geogard ect smell so horrible.
  • Think Pharma is right, benzaldehyde smells like marzipan/sugary paste with that almond touch, whereas pure benzyl alcohol would probably smell a little bit more floral since it is found in some essential oils such as those of jasmine. 
  • If you don’t want the smell of benzaldehyde in your product, you could buy a purer grade of benzyl alcohol and use chemicals to slow its oxidation in the final product, but I think it’s best to use other preservatives. 
  • @LuisJavier So whats the funky smell in Geogard ECT? INCI: Benzyl Alcohol & Salicylic Acid & Glycerin & Sorbic Acid
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Funky? Lice solution? Dunno how that smells...
    Funky sounds like dank but this here isn't a weed forum, so... and our lice products don't contain benzyl alcohol (lucky us).
    Hence, could you describe the aroma better because I have no clue what you smell?
    BTW salicylic acid and glycerin have no odour and sorbic acid may smell unpleasant upon degradation but IMHO it's not a strong odour.
  • @Pharma I decided to use it again without the gross chamomile hydrosal overload in a simple emulsion and I can now see what you mean by a possible amaretto smell. Its not as unpleasant as it was in my other formula. Does still remind me of hair lice treatment haha wonder why...
  • @LuisJavier So whats the funky smell in Geogard ECT? INCI: Benzyl Alcohol & Salicylic Acid & Glycerin & Sorbic Acid
    I really believe it is due to the addition of benzyl alcohol because it often contains impurities such as benzaldehyde. Also, even if you buy very pure benzyl alcohol, it can oxide over time to give a strong marzipan/almondy scent. 
  • Cafe33Cafe33 Member
    I used to routinely handle reagent grade Benzyl Alcohol, the kind Sigma, Acros etc would sell. It never smelled bad. The stuff from other suppliers when it would turn slightly yellow would have a much more disagreeable odor.  

    I can't say which decomposition product makes Benzyl Alcohol smell bad but Benzaldehyde is for me the most repugnant odor even at 100-200 ppm. I worked for a chemical supplier who was an authorized JT Baker distributor. To this day, just smelling a chocolate or dessert with that artifical almond flavoring makes me dizzy.
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