Eucalyptol Masks the Olfactory But Not the Trigeminal Sensation of Ammonia
Eucalyptol is a substance with rather pleasant olfactory and trigeminal characteristics and is thus suggested as an efficient tool for malodor coverage. In this study ammonia would be the malodor substance such as is found in cat litter or hair coloration. We investigated the potential of eucalyptol to inhibit both the olfactory as well as the trigeminal sensation of ammonia. For this purpose, we mixed eucalyptol and ammonia and compared odor component intensities. After being presented with either the pure odors or a binary mixture thereof, 21 young and healthy participants had to lateralize the odors and rate component (eucalyptol and ammonia) and total intensity. Analysis of intensity ratings revealed hypoadditivity (total mixture intensity was less than the sum of the total intensity of the single components). Significant interaction effects verified that mixing eucalyptol and ammonia only affected the perceived intensity of ammonia. Comparing the odor components within the pure and mixed stimuli, the ammonia component was rated as significantly less intense in the mixture compared to pure ammonia whereas the eucalyptol component was rated equal in the pure and mixed condition. On the basis of lateralization scores, we observed trigeminal mixture enhancement. We conclude that eucalyptol is a suitable masking agent to cover the unpleasant smell of ammonia; however, it fails to serve as an ammonia counterirritant because it lacks the ability to mask the trigeminal sensation of ammonia.