How Bitrex was brewed | Bitrex - Keeping children safe

How Bitrex was brewed

Let’s take post-it notes. In fact let’s take them away completely. How would you get on? Reduced to writing vital numbers, times and names on instantly losable bits of paper. 

The yellow decoration on every office and kitchen cupboard is yet another great scientific breakthrough we take for granted. And the little known fact is that post-it notes were invented by accident – the by-product of a new glue that didn’t work very well. No use for hanging wallpaper – perfect for temporary notes. 

Denaturing alcohol 
Bitrex had the same accidental birth. What on earth do you do with a substance that is so bitter that no one can swallow it? But white coated chemists aren’t just imaginative at making new things out of bubbling cloudy liquids. They’re pretty good at fi nding uses. Following its emergence out of the lab in 1958 the fi rst use was denaturing alcohol. Yes, denaturing. Imagine you have a few hundred gallons of seized illegal alcohol. It’s a headache to get rid of it. And you certainly don’t want anyone drinking it. A few drops of Bitrex and even the most determined boozer will be unable to face it. 

Animal magic 
The next application for Bitrex was a bit of animal magic. Domestic and wild animals are great gnawers. Elephants in zoos eat their beds. Horses chew their stable doors, pig bite fellow pigs’ tails. A modest skoosh of Bitrex curtails the chomping – even for the pigs. 

The strength of Bitrex 
It’s a short step from there to those other indiscriminate feeders – small children. The great strength of Bitrex is its total harmlessness. For something that tastes so terrible it’s remarkable that no child or animal will come to harm from tasting the bitterest taste in the world. Perfect as a last line of defence to protect inquisitive toddlers from the hazards of the modern world. Bitrex has never looked back and is now sold as a safety ingredient in household, laundry, cleaning, automotive, garden products and anti-nail-biting products in 60 countries around the world. Not bad for an accident.



Features in The Guinness Book of Records as the most bitter substance in the world

One teaspoonful can be detected in an Olympic sized swimming pool

Completely safe (used in dental anaesthetics for over 50 years)