Understanding Cis-3-Hexenol: The Essence of Fresh Green Scents

Understanding Cis-3-Hexenol: The Essence of Fresh Green Scents

Introduction to Cis-3-Hexenol

Cis-3-hexenol, also known as leaf alcohol, is a natural organic compound belonging to the class of unsaturated alcohols. It has the molecular formula C6H12O and is known for its characteristic fresh, green, grassy odor. This compound is widely used in the flavor and fragrance industries due to its ability to impart a natural green note to various products.

Chemical Structure and Properties

  • Chemical Formula: C6H12O
  • Molecular Weight: 100.16 g/mol
  • Structure: The structure of cis-3-hexenol consists of a six-carbon chain with a double bond between the third and fourth carbon atoms (in cis configuration) and a hydroxyl group (-OH) attached to the third carbon atom. The cis configuration means that the hydrogen atoms attached to the double-bonded carbons are on the same side of the molecule, giving it a unique shape and properties.

Natural Occurrence

Cis-3-hexenol is found naturally in many green plants and is a major component of the aroma of freshly cut grass. It is released when plant tissues are damaged, serving as a signaling molecule in plant communication and defense mechanisms.

Applications in the Fragrance Industry

  1. Perfumes and Colognes: Cis-3-hexenol is used as a key ingredient in many fragrances to impart a fresh, green, and natural scent. It is often used in perfumes that aim to evoke nature and the outdoors.
  2. Household Products: The fresh green scent of cis-3-hexenol is popular in air fresheners, laundry detergents, and cleaning products, giving them a clean and natural aroma.

Applications in the Flavor Industry

  1. Food and Beverages: In the flavor industry, cis-3-hexenol is used to enhance the freshness of fruit flavors, particularly in apple, pear, and other green fruit profiles. It is also used in mint and green tea flavors.
  2. Chewing Gum and Candy: Its fresh and green note makes it a popular additive in chewing gum and candies, enhancing the natural flavor profiles.

Health and Safety

Cis-3-hexenol is generally considered safe for use in food and fragrance products. However, as with any chemical compound, it should be used within the recommended concentration levels to avoid any potential adverse effects.

  • Toxicity: It has low toxicity when used in approved concentrations for flavoring and fragrance purposes.
  • Irritation: In high concentrations, cis-3-hexenol may cause skin or eye irritation. Proper handling and dilution are recommended.

Synthetic Production

While cis-3-hexenol is naturally occurring, it is also produced synthetically for industrial use. The synthetic production allows for a consistent and reliable supply of the compound for various applications.

Environmental Impact

As a naturally occurring compound, cis-3-hexenol is biodegradable and has a minimal environmental impact. Its production and use in consumer products are generally considered environmentally friendly.


Cis-3-hexenol, with its distinctive fresh and green aroma, plays a crucial role in both the flavor and fragrance industries. Its ability to evoke the scent of freshly cut grass makes it a valuable component in perfumes, household products, and food flavoring. Understanding its properties, applications, and safety can help in appreciating the widespread use and importance of this natural compound.

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