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This article is about the use as an aversive agent. For use as a food additive, see Bittering agent.

A bitterant (or bittering agent) is a chemical that is added to a product to make it smell or taste bitter. Bitterants are commonly used as aversive agents to discourage the inhalation or ingestion of toxic substances.

Examples of use[edit]

  • The addition of a bitterant to ethanol denatures the product.
  • Bitterants are used in antifreeze to prevent pet and child poisonings.[1] It is required by law in some places (France, Oregon, etc.)
  • Gas dusters often use a bitterant to discourage inhalant abuse, although this can cause problems for legitimate users. The bitterant not only leaves an intolerably bitter flavor in the air, but also leaves a bitter residue on objects, like screens and keyboards, that may transfer to hands and cause problems (such as when eating).

Examples of bitterants[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Denaturation (food), the deliberate addition of an unpleasantly flavored or poisonous substances to food in order to prevent the consumption of the food for various reasons.
  • Adulterant, a substance added to food for deceptive or malicious reasons, for example to cheaply replace legitimate ingredients.


  1. ^ Cheryl Hogue, "Safer Antifreeze Bill Is Moving Fast," Chemical & Engineering News, July 31, 2006, pp. 39-41. available here. Access date: January 3, 2009.
  2. ^ "Final Report Study of Aversive Agents". Consumer Product Safety Commission United States of America. 18 November 1992. Retrieved 15 November 2010.