As soon as science has solved one problem, new ones arise. This is the essence of science, and it applies, of course, also to the field of essential oils.
It has been possible to trace historically back to a very early age the taxes which were imposed on medicines, spices and similar substances in German towns. Thus, for instance, one finds that in the year 1500, thirteen, in 1540, thirty-eight, and in 1708, already one hundred and twenty vegetable oils are mentioned.
One would think that plants belonging to the same genus would always produce identical or at least similar oils. But this is by no means so.
In bitter almond oil, like in a great number of other substances that previously had been counted among the 'aromatic compounds' on behalf of their strong smell, a derivative of benzene is present. The special properties of benzene and its derivatives are caused by the typical arrangement of their carbon atoms.
In organic chemistry, we have learnt to derive from compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen, i.e. from the hydrocarbons, all other types of combinations, such as alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, acids, etc.
Most of the oils which are valued as scents are mixtures of substances; only the combined effect of these leads to the known result.
As soon as chemists have a definite conception of the internal structure of the molecule of an organic compound, they are able to tackle the task of producing these substances by artificial methods, i.e. by synthesis, as we call it.
As soon as we can wrest from Nature the secret of the internal structure of the compounds produced by her, chemical science can then even surpass Nature by producing compounds as variations of the natural ones, which the living cell is unable to construct.
May the work for the further development of chemical science, which has its strongest roots in this beautiful, strong and hard-working country of Sweden, continue to flourish in the future, for the promotion of culture and the benefit of mankind.