History | Bitrex



Denatonium Benzoate was discovered in 1958 by Macfarlan Smith and registered under the Bitrex trademark in the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA later the same year. First used in denaturing alcohol - making it legally unfit for consumption - it is now added to a wide range of household cleaners, pesticides, and DIY and automotive products. Since being approved in the UK and US in the early 1960s, Bitrex has been officially recognised as the denaturant of choice in more than 40 countries.

The discovery of Bitrex

During routine work on local anaesthetics, laboratory staff noticed that the powdered form of denatonium benzoate was extremely bitter. Prepared in solution, it was found to be much more potent than the standard alcohol denaturant at the time, Brucine.

UK sales of the new denaturant began in 1960, and by 1963, customers included ICI, Rentokil, Gillette and Avon Products. The first use of Bitrex simply as a taste aversive was in a cream to prevent tail-biting in pigs.

Bitrex has been used in a variety of applications since. One of the main uses is as a human aversive. Due to its overwhelming bitter taste, it is ideal for helping prevent accidental poisonings.