What is the difference between natural and artificial flavours?
A natural flavour is the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavouring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavouring rather than nutrition. Synthetic flavours are those that are made from components that do not meet this definition.With that said, there is little substantive difference between natural and artificial flavourings. They are both made in a laboratory by a trained professional—a “flavourist”—who blends appropriate chemicals together in the right proportions. The flavourist uses “natural” chemicals to make natural flavourings and “synthetic” chemicals to make synthetic flavourings. However, the flavourist creating synthetic flavouring must use the same components in his formulation as would be used to make a natural flavouring; otherwise, the flavouring will not have the desired flavour. The distinction in flavourings–natural versus artificial–comes from the source of these identical chemicals. To put it simply, one can, for example, make a blue dye out of blueberry extract or synthetic pigments. Thus, if a consumer purchases an apple beverage that contains an artificial flavour, she will ingest the same primary chemicals that she would consume if she had chosen a naturally flavoured apple beverage, and the same chemicals that nature provided during the apple ripening.

When making a flavour, the flavourist always begins by going to the scientific literature and researching what elements nature uses to make the desired aroma. They then select from the list of flavour components found and eliminate those compounds that make little contribution to taste or are not permitted. (Nature has no restrictions on using toxic chemicals, whereas the flavourist does.) The flavourist then either chooses ingredients that are natural (isolated from nature as described above) or synthetic ingredients (made by people) to make the flavour.

Is there truly a difference between natural and artificial flavourings?

Yes. Artificial flavourings are simpler in composition and potentially safer, because only safety-tested components are utilized. Another difference between natural and artificial flavourings is cost. The search for “natural” sources to create the essences we offer often requires that a manufacturer go to great lengths to obtain a given element.

Natural coconut flavourings, for example, depend on an ingredient called massoya lactone. Massoya lactone comes from the bark of the Massoya tree, which grows in Malaysia. Collecting this natural ingredient requires removing the bark to extract and obtain the lactone, which sadly, kills the tree. The process of obtaining this pure, natural lactone is time-consuming and expensive, while the synthetic alternative made in an organic chemist’s laboratory is identical in composition, yet much more cost-effective and environmentally friendly to make. Consumers pay a lot for natural flavourings. But these are, in fact, no better in quality, nor are they safer, than their artificial counterparts.

In short, there is no real measurable difference between the compositions of natural and artificial flavourings, except for the original source of the components.

How can I use flavourings in my kitchen?

Flavourings are great for any application. Our flavours are offered as water soluble and oil soluble.

Water soluble flavours are based on pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol and water. Average caloric count for water soluble flavours is 200 calories per 100 grams of flavour.

Oil soluble flavours are based on sunflower oil or triacetin. Average caloric count is 700 calories per 100 grams of flavour.

Considering an average use of our flavours of 0.3%, the caloric contribution in food by our flavours is between 0.5 to 2 calories for a 100 gram serving. More simply put, the caloric contribution by our flavours is negligible.

Our flavours DO NOT contain sugars, protein, genetically modified ingredients, animal ingredients of any kind, preservatives, sweeteners, or colors. They are all gluten free and manufactured in a nut free environment. They are great for diabetics, vegetarians, and vegans.

I noticed that some products are available in an oil base, what are recommended applications for these aromas?

Flavourings that contain oil-soluble bases are ideal for the preparation of oils or very fatty matrix. For all other uses, we suggested the use of flavourings in water-soluble bases.

Can I mix flavours together?

Of course! Mixing flavours together is always recommended when you want to increase the level of complexity of the aromatic components. It’s good to keep in mind that you must dose individual flavours wisely to avoid an unbalanced result.

General Usage Guidelines

Our flavours were designed to be used at 1-5 grams of flavouring per Kg of finished product. However, for the home chef, who may be making smaller recipes, always remember less is more. Add some, taste and adjust from there.

Our bottles are designed the way they are to help our users dose our flavourings effectively. Five drops from these pipettes equates to 0.1g of flavour, which would be adequate to flavour 100g of food product.

Before using our flavours on larger quantities of food, we recommend experimenting first. Start with 100ml of vegetable oil, add 5 drops, and taste. If the flavour is too intense, reduce the amount of flavouring, and if the resulting flavour is too weak, increase the amount of flavouring by small increments until you achieve the desired result.

Moreover, please keep in mind that cooking processes, cold or iced food, and the amount of fat, sugar, and protein content may reduce the flavour intensity. When flavourings are used in such conditions, some overdosing might be desirable.

Flavours bind very well with food matrix, so fat, sugars, and proteins “catch” the flavour molecules, thus making them less available for the taste buds. Generally speaking, the richer the food, the less the flavour will be perceived.

Super fatty or high-protein foods will likely require flavour overdosing for noticeable results. Flavour use, food technology, and personal taste are a combination of science and human preferences, so a little experimentation is needed to achieve the desired results.

The Authenticity of our Ingredients

Nature is our master, and diversity is the key that makes everything special, we always keep this in mind when creating new aromas for our consumers to enjoy.

Flavours can be quite simple blends of just a few raw materials, but often they are extremely complex blends of essential oils, flavour compounds, natural extracts, distillates, and absolutes.

The use of critical CO2 extracts and natural flavour complexes obtained by bio-conversion and controlled fermentation are other raw materials often used to create your flavours. In this endless, always fascinating palette, we must be able to choose the purest and finest.

With well over 1200 raw materials utilized in flavour creation and hundreds more food ingredients in stock, Hedessent.ca is capable of satisfying the most demanding requirements concerning creation and innovation.

Combining a consolidate proprietary database of flavour formulas, creativity, and service, we can realize almost every flavour to suit your needs. We keep commercial relationships with suppliers from all over the world, together with research institutes and universities, so that we can use the most updated scientific information.

When you purchase a flavour, you expect not only great taste but also great performance in the food base. A flavour must be simple to use and of course, it must withstand all of the application parameters involved in production. The essence should also maintain its profile during the shelf life with minimal changes, and also be competitive in price.

The Science Behind The Taste

Flavour is a complex mixture of sensory input composed of taste, smell, and the tactile sensation of food as it is being chewed, a characteristic that food scientists often term “mouthfeel”.

Although people may use the word “taste” to mean “flavour,” in the strictest sense, it is applicable only to the sensations arising from specialized taste cells in the mouth. Scientists generally describe human taste perception in terms of four qualities: saltiness, sourness, sweetness, and bitterness.

Some have suggested, however, that other categories exist as well—most notably umami—the sensation elicited by glutamate, one of the 20 amino acids that make up the proteins in meat, fish, and legumes. Glutamate also serves as a flavour enhancer in the form of the additive monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Taste cells lie within specialized structures called taste buds, which are situated predominantly on the tongue and soft palate. The majority of taste buds on the tongue are located within papillae, the tiny projections that give the tongue its velvety appearance. (The most numerous papillae on the tongue—the filiform, or threadlike, ones—lack taste buds, however, and are involved in tactile sensation.) Of those with taste buds, the fungiform (“mushroom-like”) papillae on the front part of the tongue are most noticeable; these contain one or more taste buds. The fungiform papillae appear as pinkish spots distributed around the edge of the tongue and are readily visible after taking a drink of milk or placing a drop of food coloring on the tip of the tongue.


Salts such as sodium chloride (NaCl), trigger taste cells when sodium ions (Na+) enter through ion channels on microvilli at the cell’s apical, or top, surface. The accumulation of sodium ions causes an electrochemical change called depolarization that results in calcium ions (Ca++) entering the cell. The calcium, in turn, prompts the cell to release chemical signals called neurotransmitters from packets known as vesicles. Nerve cells, or neurons, receive the message and convey a signal to the brain. Taste cells repolarize, or “reset,” themselves in part by opening potassium ion channels so that potassium ions (K+) can exit.


Acids taste sour, because they generate hydrogen ions (H+) in solution. Those ions act on a taste cell in three ways: by directly entering the cell; by blocking potassium ion (K+) channels on the microvilli; and by binding to and opening channels on the microvilli that allow other positive ions to enter the cell. The resulting accumulation of positive charges depolarizes the cell and leads to neurotransmitter release.


Sweet stimuli, such as sugar or artificial sweeteners, do not enter taste cells but trigger changes within the cells. They bind to receptors on a taste cell’s surface that are coupled to molecules named G-proteins. This prompts the subunits (a, b, and g) of the G-proteins to split into a and bg, which activates a nearby enzyme. The enzyme then converts a precursor within the cell into so-called second messengers that close potassium channels indirectly. Just as important as ingesting the appropriate nutrients is not ingesting harmful substances. The universal avoidance of intensely bitter molecules shows a strong link between taste and disgust. Toxic compounds, such as strychnine and other common plant alkaloids, often have a strong, bitter taste. In fact, many plants have evolved such compounds as a protective mechanism against foraging animals. The sour taste of spoiled foods also contributes to their avoidance. All animals, including humans, generally reject acids and bitter-tasting substances at all but the weakest concentrations. The intense reactions of pleasure and disgust evoked by sweet and bitter substances appear to be present at birth and to depend on neural connections within the lower brain stem.

The strong link between taste and pleasure—or perhaps displeasure—is the basis of the phenomenon of taste-aversion learning. Animals, including humans, will quickly learn to avoid a novel food if eating it causes, or is paired with, gastrointestinal distress.


One of the most dubious “facts” about taste – and one that is commonly reproduced in textbooks – is the oft-cited but misleading “tongue map” showing large regional differences in sensitivity across the human tongue. These maps indicate that sweetness is detected by taste buds on the tip of the tongue, sourness on the sides, bitterness at the back, and saltiness along the edges. Taste researchers have known for many years that these tongue maps are wrong. The maps arose early in the 20th century as a result of a misinterpretation of research reported in the late 1800s, and they have been almost impossible to purge from the literature. In reality, all qualities of taste can be elicited from all the regions of the tongue that contain taste buds. At present, there is no evidence that any kind of spatial segregation of sensitivities contributes to the neural representation of taste quality, although there are some slight differences in sensitivity across the tongue and palate.

Didn’t find the answers you were looking for? Contact us and a member of our team would be happy to assist you.