Frequently Asked Questions
What is Innocork®?
Innocork® is a patented process that extracts TCA and other volatile organic compounds from cork. Surface-adsorbed TCA is removed by physical-chemical actions of temperature and solvent polarity of a carrier gas composed of water vapor and ethyl alcohol.
What is TCA?
TCA stands for 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole. TCA is a naturally occurring metabolite produced by several fungus species. TCA is detectable by the human nose in ng/L (nanograms per Litre), and poses no toxic effect at naturally occurring levels. Once formed, TCA is chemically stable and easily adsorbed by many natural and synthetic materials. TCA is pervasive in nature and industry and has been found in foods and beverages (e.g. coffee and cocoa beans, wine and beer, and bottled and municipal drinking water), packaging materials made of wood (including cork, paper and cardboard) and plastics.
How much TCA does Innocork remove from cork?
The amount of TCA that Innocork removes varies with the amount originally in the corks. Independent laboratory trials of natural cork samples processed with Innocork resulted in TCA extraction ranges from 60% to 85%.What other quality assurance controls does Cork Supply have in place besides Innocork to prevent against TCA?At Cork Supply, Innocork is just one step in our integrated company-wide quality assurance system. At every step from forest to bottle, we maintain 100% traceability, best manufacturing practices and internal quality control procedures. We also perform rigorous sensory and SPME-GC/MS (Solid Phase Micro Extraction – Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) testing of all corkwood and finished cork lots. Our releasable TCA acceptance threshold for all incoming corkwood and outgoing corks is a strict < 1.5 ng/L. Innocork, which has been independently validated to reduce TCA and other offer aromas in corks up to 85% and to improve sensory uniformity, is used on all quality assured natural cork lots. Finally, to be released for shipment from Portugal, all our natural cork lots must pass final QA inspection, testing and approval. Further quality control procedures and sensory and SPME-GC/MS testing is likewise conducted by regional Cork Supply cork finishing plants on every incoming and outgoing cork lot to ensure they remain in compliance with our strict quality specifications.
Will giving corks multiple Innocork treatments lower TCA levels further?
Yes. However, just one pass through the Innocork process reduces levels significantly. Quality gains from repeat treatments are not significant enough to be meaningful.
Does Innocork remove other volatile compounds from cork besides TCA?
Yes. Innocork removes many other unwanted aroma compounds, resulting in very neutral, predictable, uniform cork lots.
For which corks does Cork Supply use Innocork?
Cork Supply uses Innocork for all our natural corks, including: FSC-Certified, Alpha™, Natura™, Alpha B™ and Colmated corks.
Does Cork Supply use Innocork for 1+1 and other technical corks?
No. Innocork is used only for natural corks, not technical stoppers made from cork granules. Cork Supply uses Vapex®, a process using high-temperature steam, to volatize TCA from cork granules, and an identical steam distillation process for 1+1 discs.
Is Innocork safe for use on corks destined for wines?
Yes, Innocork is 100% safe for use on corks destined for wines. Innocork uses the same approved food-grade fermentation ethanol used by wineries.Is Innocork safe for the environment?Yes, Innocork is an environmentally safe and sustainable technology. The water vapor and ethanol exhaustion released into the atmosphere is ten times lower in Total Organic Compounds concentration than the legal admissible European limit. Moreover, Innocork achieves high efficiency using modest temperatures, requiring low energy consumption (less than 10% of the overall energy needed to manufacture natural cork closures).