Journal Published Online: 01 November 2004
Volume 49, Issue 6

The Reactivity of Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) in Alcoholic Solutions



In this work the stability of GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) and GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) in alcoholic media was studied. Under acidic conditions the GBL will react with ethanol or methanol to give the corresponding ethyl and methyl esters of GHB. It can be seen that ester formation is dependent on the type of alcohol, the alcohol content of the solution, and the pH of the solution. Under the same conditions it was shown that GHB does not give rise directly to the corresponding ester when merely in the presence of an alcohol; however the ester will be formed if the conditions are present for conversion of GHB to GBL followed by subsequent reaction with alcohol. In alcoholic beverage samples spiked with GBL the expected conversion to GHB occurred, and the formation of the ethyl ester of GHB was also seen in some samples. Wine samples were analyzed for the presence of the ethyl ester of GHB, and the effect of adding GHB/GBL to hot beverages was studied.

Author Information

Hennessy, S
Limerick Institute of Technology, Limerick, Ireland
Moane, S
Limerick Institute of Technology, Limerick, Ireland
McDermott, S
Forensic Science Laboratory Garda H.Q, Dublin 8, Ireland
Pages: 10
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Stock #: JFS2003340
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS2003340