MTBHQ (Mono t-butyl hydroquinone) is a preservative and antioxidant used in various applications. Derived from hydtert-Butylhydroquinone, it is a synthetic organic phenol made by substituting one of the ring hydrogen’s of hydroquinone with a tert-butyl group. It has a slightly aromatic scent with an off-white appearance, and usually comes the form of a powder that is highly soluble in water.
Most perfume aficionados will tell you that fragrances are dynamic and that they start to change from the moment they touch our skin. When perfumers, referred to as Noses in the industry, aim to create a fragrance they use their expertise to formulate a scent combination that is pleasant, long lasting, and subtly noticeable; this conspicuousness is known as a sillage and refers to the pleasant trail left behind by the wearer. To increase the longevity and sillage of the fragrance, perfumers can reduce its evaporation rate by using MTBHQ as a stabiliser, whilst simultaneously postponing degradation. At the recommended concentrations, MTBHQ exhibits no odour making it ideal for cosmetics and perfumes alike.
Its antioxidant properties make it an excellent stabiliser that can prevent evaporation, discolouration, and spoiling of the solvent to which it is added. In food, MTBHQ is used for its preservative properties (E number E319). It is used extensively in unsaturated vegetable oils and animal fats to extend the shelf life of products. It benefits from a high solubility in both water and oil which makes it suitable for a wide variety of end products. Although MTBHQ is FDA approved, some evidence suggests that in large quantities it could cause harmful side effects. We therefore suggest it for use in non-consumables, or if absolutely necessary, never exceed the recommended concentration.
The same properties that make MTBHQ great for preserving cooking oils, also make it a popular additive in bio-fuels, particularly bio-diesels. Bio-diesels are renewable fuels usually made from vegetable oils and alcohols. Switching to Bio-diesel has been shown to considerably reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses when compared to petroleum-based fuels and are considered to be carbon neutral. They also have the added benefit of reducing a region’s dependence on crude oil, and therefore price fluctuations.
MTBHQ’s unique properties make it a versatile additive, with the potential to be used in a wide variety of applications where manufacturers want ingredients with low toxicity and minimal impact on the environment. We see the potential for MTBHQ to be used in varnishes, lacquers, and resins; acrylic Inks, paints, and coatings; and Bio-fuels, alcohols, and diesels.