Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 19, pp 4657–4668 | Cite as

Ionic liquids as water-compatible GC stationary phases for the analysis of fragrances and essential oils

  • Cecilia CaglieroEmail author
  • Carlo BicchiEmail author
  • Chiara Cordero
  • Erica Liberto
  • Patrizia Rubiolo
  • Barbara Sgorbini
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Ionic Liquids as Tunable Materials in (Bio)Analytical Chemistry


Fragrances and products deriving from essential oils are often formulated or diluted in aqueous media, usually ethanol/water. Gas chromatography (GC) is the technique of choice to analyze volatiles. However, when using columns coated with conventional stationary phases, its application to aqueous samples often requires time-consuming and/or discriminative sample preparation techniques to extract the target analytes from the aqueous medium, so as to avoid its direct injection. In GC with conventional columns, water produces peak asymmetry, poor sensitivity and efficiency, strong adsorption, stationary phase degradation, and, last but not least, it is not easy to detect reliably when present in high amounts. In 2012, Armstrong’s group introduced new fully water-compatible ionic-liquid (IL)-based GC capillary columns based on phosphonium and imidazolium derivative cations combined with trifluoromethanesulphonate. These columns were recently made available commercially by Supelco, under the trade name Watercol™. These derivatives maintain IL’s unique selectivity and chromatographic properties, and enable water to be used as injection solvent, thus avoiding the sample preparation procedures required by conventional columns. This study reports and critically discusses the results of commercially available water-compatible IL columns for direct analysis of aqueous samples in the fragrance and essential oil fields by GC with thermal conductivity (TCD) and/or flame ionization detectors (FID). The results showed that water-compatible IL-based stationary phases can successfully be adopted for qualitative and quantitative analysis of fragrances and essential oils directly diluted in aqueous solvents. On the other hand, the study also shows that their inertness needs to be further increased and (possibly) the range of operative temperature extended when water is the main solvent of the sample.


Ionic liquids GC Aqueous samples Water-compatible stationary phases Essential oils Fragrances 



The authors are indebted to Supelco (Bellefonte, PA, USA) for providing the ionic liquid columns, to Dr. Len Sidisky (Supelco, Bellefonte, PA, USA) for helpful discussion and advice, and to Robertet SA (Grasse, France) for financial support to the laboratory.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2018_922_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (355 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 354 kb)


  1. 1.
    Belhassen E, Bressanello D, Merle P, Raynaud E, Bicchi C, Chaintreau A, et al. Routine quantification of 54 allergens in fragrances using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography-quadrupole mass spectrometry with dual parallel secondary columns. Part I: method development. Flavour Frag J. 2018;33(1):63–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    DIRECTIVE 2003/15/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 February 2003.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jayawardhana DA, Woods RM, Zhang Y, Wang CL, Armstrong DW. Rapid, efficient quantification of water in solvents and solvents in water using an ionic liquid-based GC column. LC GC N Am. 2012;30(2):142-+.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ho TD, Zhang C, Hantao LW, Anderson JL. Ionic liquids in analytical chemistry: fundamentals, advances, and perspectives. Anal Chem. 2014;86(1):262–85.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Frink LA, Weatherly CA, Armstrong DW. Water determination in active pharmaceutical ingredients using ionic liquid headspace gas chromatography and two different detection protocols. J Pharmaceut Biomed. 2014;94:111–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Frink LA, Armstrong DW. Water determination in solid pharmaceutical products utilizing ionic liquids and headspace gas chromatography. J Pharm Sci-Us. 2016;105(8):2288–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Frink LA, Armstrong DW. The utilisation of two detectors for the determination of water in honey using headspace gas chromatography. Food Chem. 2016;205:23–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
  9. 9.
    Grob K, Grob G, Grob KJ. Testing capillary gas chromatographic columns. J Chromatogr. 1981;219:13–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    European Pharmacopoeia Online 9.2, 9th ed.
  11. 11.
    Cagliero C, Bicchi C, Cordero C, Liberto E, Rubiolo P, Sgorbini B. Analysis of essential oils and fragrances with a new generation of highly inert gas chromatographic columns coated with ionic liquids. J Chromatogr A. 2017;1495:64–75.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    IFRA (International Fragrance Association). GC/MS quantitation of potential fragrance allergens in fragrance compounds. 2007.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cosmetics Europe. Technical guidance for the determination of fragrance material in cosmetic products. 2006.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia Cagliero
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carlo Bicchi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chiara Cordero
    • 1
  • Erica Liberto
    • 1
  • Patrizia Rubiolo
    • 1
  • Barbara Sgorbini
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienza e Tecnologia del FarmacoUniversità degli Studi di TorinoTorinoItaly

Personalised recommendations