The sweet smell of success (Day 321)

We all want to make a good first impression, but when we feel anxious our body responds by sweating and this can result in an unappealing body odour.

When we want to make the right impact at an interview or on a date, we need a little help to make sure we are smelling fresh.

So fear not. There’s now a perfume that improves its performance the more we sweat.

Release of fragrances triggered by water

Photo credit | QUILL
Release of fragrances triggered by water

Researchers at the Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre in Belfast have developed a unique perfume. It releases its aroma the more it comes into contact with moisture. So the more you sweat, the better you smell!

This is an innovative and very clever system. It works through the attachment of a raw fragrance onto an ionic liquid (salt in liquid form) which has no smell.

When this comes into contact with water the fragrance is split from the compound, in practice the sweat (which contains water) breaks this bond. Each time a break is made more of the perfume is released onto the skin.

Not only does it give off more of its perfume as you perspire – it takes away the unpleasant smell.

Of course, sweat itself is actually odourless. It’s the sulfurous thiol compounds, that when mixed with the bacteria on our skin and hair follicles, bring out a pungent smell.

These thiol compounds are attracted to the ionic liquid. They attach to it and the potency of the smell is diminished. What a smart feat of chemical engineering.

Dr Nimal Gunaratne, project leader of the study at QUILL Research Centre said: “This is an exciting breakthrough that uses newly discovered ionic liquid systems to release material in a controlled manner.

“Not only does it have great commercial potential, and could be used in perfumes and cosmetic creams, but it could also be used in others area of science, such as the slow release of certain substances of interest.”

sweaty peopleThis breakthrough offers interesting possibilities elsewhere in the personal care market. In 2013, nearly two billion dollars was spent on personal hygiene advertising in the US. The researchers involved are working with a company to identify product ideas that could eventually be sold in shops.

As Nimal suggested, ionic fluids can flourish in more industries than just personal care. They show promise in a broad spectrum including greener solvents for chemical processing and the removal of mercury from natural gas (in which QUILL won top prize at the IChemE’s annual awards in 2013 for their project with PETRONAS).

This pioneering development demonstrates the drive of chemists and chemical engineers to advance knowledge and achieve excellence for the benefit of society as a whole.

That’s why chemical engineering matters. Without it, much of human progress would be impossible. It plays a key role in creating and maintaining a good quality of life; whether it be in the water, energy, food, or health and well being sectors.

And we should all care about the world we leave for the next generation. Well, you never know where that first date might lead…


As usual, my blog is intended to be thought provoking. But if you don’t agree with my views; don’t get in a sweat about it; let me know what you think.

Feel free to comment below.

One thought on “The sweet smell of success (Day 321)

  1. Geoff, in this context I am not sure what is special about an ionic liquid.

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