The smoke evolution

NEW PureSmoke™ Filtration Technology revolutionises smoke for a safer, more flavoursome product

Taste without compromise

Pushing the boundaries of natural smoked foods is what we do best, which is why we linked with leading food scientist and flavour chemist Dr David Baines to develop PureSmoke™.

A safer way to smoke ingredients for a more flavoursome offering, PureSmoke™ Filtration Technology heralds a new generation of natural smoke flavour systems. Conforming to latest EU legislation, it reduces the amount of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) meaning greater consumer safety as well as taste satisfaction. By decreasing levels of carcinogenic toxins, the process leaves only the most desirable smoke volatiles – the compounds that deliver that unmistakable smoky taste – without any loss of flavour. PureSmoke has also given rise to the next-generation smoke processors, which improve smoke time efficiency by up to 300%. These wet and dry ingredient smoke processors are in the final stages of development and will be available in 2016 to food manufacturers and processors worldwide.

Smoke science

Making smoked foods safer


At Besmoke we know it takes real craftsmanship to create an authentic, delicious yet safe smoked taste and food safety is a key concern of any responsible food manufacturer. With new EU legislation – The Smoke Directive – coming into force in 2015, smoke flavourings are high on the safety agenda.

This shift in legislation and potential health concerns associated with smoke flavourings led to a collaboration between leading food chemist, Dr David Baines and Besmoke founder, Huw Griffiths. It began with a two month research project conducted at the University of Reading’s Flavour Centre to develop a cleaner, safer smoke that was also flavoursome and commercially viable. The outcomes from the bench top tests were extremely encouraging – and so PureSmoke™ was born.

Besmoke, Dr Baines and University of Reading then went on to participate in a two year Innovate-UK funded project, which began in January 2014. The project has successfully built upon the findings of the original project with outcomes that have the potential to change the future of how smoke is viewed, used, tasted and created.

The science


PureSmoke™ Technology works on the principles of molecular sieving by using size exclusion methodology to prevent certain undesirable elements of the smoke reaching the food.

The smoking process creates Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as Benzo(a)Pyrene, which are classified as toxic carcinogens. PureSmoke™’s sieve filter has been designed to trap these four and five ring hydrocarbons, as they are too large to penetrate and as such remain trapped within the complex matrix. However, desirable flavour compounds, such as guaiacol, are much smaller in comparison and therefore flow freely through the filter to impart smoke flavour into the food.

Further undesirable smoke compounds like tar are also trapped within the filter.

This creates a less acrid smoke flavour thereby developing a more rounded taste, which complements food flavours more like a seasoning than a flavouring.



A natural zeolite is the base raw material used in the filtration process. We have chemically and physically altered the structure of the zeolite in order to provide the exact sieve filtration properties required to trap PAHs but allow the free flow of flavour compounds. The development of this zeolite was supported by the University of Reading with application of X-ray Crystallography to determine its exact physical structure before and after our alterations.

Every sample of smoked food was analysed for flavour compounds at University of Reading Flavour Centre with the application of Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS). Further flavour analysis was conducted with expert and consumer sensory panels at University of Reading, comparing foods smoked with and without PureSmoke™ Technology.

All smoked food samples were analysed for PAH concentrations at a UKAS accredited independent laboratory using GC/MS.

The results


An incredible 94.5% overall reduction in the most harmful PAHs found in smoke was achieved in laboratory tests. Our current target for commercially manufactured smoked foods is a reduction of 85% of the most harmful PAHs and we aim to reach a 90%-95% reduction by 2017.

The PureSmoke™ flavour

In addition to the comprehensive analysis of smoke flavour compounds carried out using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS), numerous consumer and expert sensory panels were also conducted. This was to establish which flavour compounds were of most importance, how PureSmoke™ Technology affects smoke flavour and how smoke flavour is perceived by the human palate.

As smoke is naturally fairly acidic it can deliver a flavour sensation commonly described as ‘acrid’. However, PureSmoke™ Technology is shown to alter the pH of smoke by reducing the levels of smoke tars, which thereby reduces both the acidity and the acridity of the smoke.

For the purposes of our research, we focused on a range of flavour compounds found to be the most representative of smoke taste. These included: Furfural, 5-Methylfurfural, Syringol, Guaiacol, Methylguaiacol, Ethylguiacol, p-Vinylguiacol, Whisky Lactone and Cyclotene.

The GC/MS results showed a reduction of the key flavour compounds in line with increased smoke filtration and the reduction in PAHs. However, sensory tests showed that the human palate is still able to detect smoke flavour very effectively and as such did not report the levels of flavour reduction as indicated by the GC/MS.

In fact, the sensory results indicate how PureSmoke™ delivers a smoke flavour, which complements foods well with much reduced levels of acridity. Overall, the sensory findings show how PureSmoke™ is perceived to be less acrid, sweeter and with a more balanced overall smokiness.

The proof

Mouthfeel and after-effects


Figure 1. A; control smoked with no filtration, B-D; increased levels of filtration from B to D.

The star diagram above (Figure 1) shows the results of a sensory panel tasting of chicken that had been brined in a smoked water solution for 24 hours. You will note that the more filtration is introduced the more balanced the flavour becomes, with less ‘ash tray’ qualities.




Figure 2. A; control smoked with no filtration, B-D; increased levels of filtration from B to D.

The diagram above (Figure 2) shows the results of a sensory panel tasting of chicken that had been brined in a smoked water solution for 24 hours. These results display how the PureSmoke creates a more desirable flavour profile complementing the chicken by improving the umami, salt and sweet flavour character.



Figure 3. A; control smoked with no filtration, B-D; increased levels of filtration from B to D.

The diagram above (Figure 3) shows the results of a sensory panel tasting of chicken that had been brined in a smoked water solution for 24 hours. Interestingly, the panel reported an improved balance of flavours, which allowed the chicken flavour to come through whilst reducing the flavours associated with acridity, smokiness and smoked fish.



PureSmoke™ Technology – using its exclusive molecular filtration – is shown to improve the overall desirable attributes of smoke as well as reduce harmful PAHs. A more balanced and rounded smoke character is created, with reduced acridity, bonfire and harsh ash tray notes. Any slight reduction in smokiness is negated by an improvement in the sensory quality of the smoke being produced, allowing the natural flavour of smoke to be detected, improving the overall character of the food, just like a seasoning.

The concomitant reduction in smoke flavour compounds is negated somewhat due to the psychophysical relationship between stimulus and response, in that the perceived loss of flavour is far less than apparent than analysis suggests. In summary, PureSmoke™ means artisan flavours… with uncompromising safety.

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