Friday, 31 August 2018


This week: safrole. Though found in small amounts in anise, cinnamon, and nutmeg, it's a major component of sassafras oil. It has a characteristic "candy shop" scent, is a synthetic precursor to MDMA, and is evidently banned from use in food by the FDA.

Figure 1: Sassafras albidum - the sassafras tree - oil from which contains safrole, an interesting plant chemical.


  1. I grew up with sassafras root beer -- I think many people still make it. How much safrole is in the root?

  2. Thanks for your question! I would love to try root beer made with sassafras some day. It is a bit hard to find information on how much safrole is in the root. I did find some (vague) information on how much safrole is in an average cup of sassafras root tea: ~0.1 mg/cup, so it seems reasonable that an average root has at least this much. With a lot a plant chemicals, a little goes a long way!