Book Reviews
Book 33

Analysis of Essential Oils by Gas Chromatography & Mass Spectrometry by Yoshiro Masada (1976) Halstead Press (div. of John Wiley & Sons) New York ISBN 0-470-15019-X.

Copyright © Tony Burfield July 2005.

This dark blue plainly covered hardback (cloth) book was an English edition based on a previous book by the author: The Analysis of Essential Oils by Gas Chromatography. The 334-paged book is divided into two parts, Part A being a collection of 64 short analytically based monographs on common essential oils from Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) to Zingiber officinale (ginger); the shorter Part B apparently requiring bilingual skills as it consists of texts on essential oils, Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectroscopy – in Japanese! We are informed that the GC chromatograms presented were carried out by using a 34 x 0.25mm polar column (Carbowax 20M). MS data was generated using a Hitachi RMU 6E single focussing Mass Spectrometer.

At the time few (1976) few analysts had access to detailed analytical data on essential oils – we did not have for example, access to the nowadays easily obtained commercial MS data-bases such as that of Richard Adams - and so this book found a ready market. The problem was that many of the chromatograms presented by Masada show serious errors in the identification and make up of the essential oils analysed. This is even more surprising because tracts of relevant published literature, many of which are reproduced in detail in the text, do not tally with the components identified in the oil by the author. It would have been expedient to understand why not perhaps, before going ahead with the publication! Teisseire (1987) says of Prof. Masada’s work: “…the numerous identifications carried out by Prof. Masada…quite a number (of which) are erroneous. Moreover, some of the essential oils studied in his work are apparently not of definite purity.” Teisseire further warns against identification of essential oil components purely on the basis of mass spectrometry alone, especially when the individual essential oil components have not been isolated for characterisation.

Flipping through the identified components of the individual chromatograms in the book in 2005, few chromatograms escape without challenge. It is curious therefore that some internet websites dedicated to the subject of perfumery and essential oils still recommend this book.


Teisseire P. (1987) “Industrial Quality Control of Essential Oils by Capillary GC” in Capillary Gas Chromatography in Essential Oil Analysis ed. P. Sandra & C. Bicchi pub. Huethig New York 1987.