Castoreum

lat. Castor fiber (Castoridae)

Group: Animal Sources

Castoreum Castor fiber (Castoridae)
Castoreum Castor fiber (Castoridae)
Castoreum Castor fiber (Castoridae)
Odor profile: very pungent and strong animal-derived note from the beaver, today synthetically recreated for ethical reasons. Smells leathery and very intense.

Castoreum in perfumery refers to the characteristic resinoid extract largely used as an animalistic note. The scent of castoreum is wild and bodily, lustful and passionate, bestowing the one who wears it a delicate aura of sensuality. This typical warm, carnal, and leather-like scent is actually a yellowish odoriferous oily secretion from the castor sac of the mature North American Beaver Castor canadensis and the European Beaver Castor fiber. The odor of castoreum is often described as sharp spreading a tar-like note that reminds of an odor of a birch tar or Russian leather. When diluted in alcohol, raw castoreum melts into more pleasant musky and fruity nuances.

Castoreum is derived from the Greek word Κάστωρ (Kastōr), meaning "beaver". Castor was also one of the Dioscuri/Gemini twins of Graeco-Roman mythology. Castor and  were twin brothers who shared a same mother but had different fathers. Pollux was immortal but Castor was not. When Castor died, Zeus heard Pollux’s prayer to share his immortality with dead brother, and transformed them both into stars joined together in the Gemini constellation. Although castoreum smells divinely, the true origin of the Greek word seems to be connected with a Sanskrit word for musk, which was kasturi.

Castoreum is mentioned in the works of the ancient commentators who mistakenly believed this musky substance is derived from the beaver’s testicles. In his tales, Aesop, the prominent Greek fabulist, retells the widespread hunter’s fallacy that cornered beaver bites off its own testicles, only to throw them to the hunter and so escape the death.

And beavers were verily hunted, not for their testicles but for their meat, their waterproof fur used to make hats, and also for their two anal glands present in both sexes, used to secrete sexual attractant. For this reason, castoreum was even used as an aphrodisiac, to seduce and attract the opposite sex by its pure and sensual animalistic vital force.


It is known in materia medica as a remedy for headache, fever, and hysteria. Even the Paracelsus, a Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer and occultist, teaches about this odoriferous oil as a cure for epilepsy. There is no evidence to support the claim that castoreum worked as a traditional remedy, but we do know that beavers feed on the inner bark of willow tree, which contains salicylic acid, chemically similar to the active component of aspirin.

In more recent times, at the beginning of the 20th century, castoreum obtained from the beavers’ sacs was still being used for luxury perfumes. But even much before, by the 16th century, this animal had been hunted to extinction in Scotland. The custom of killing an animal to obtain the scented oil was brutal and cruel, unfitting to fine goods such as perfumes. Today, it has been replaced by chemically synthesized castoreum, which is completely obtained from the laboratory. The synthetic castoreum echoes through many prominent perfumery creations such as Shalimar by Guerlain, Emeraude by Coty, Magie Noire by Lancôme, Antaeus by Chanel, Givenchy III by Hubert de Givenchy, Colonia Russa by Santa Maria Novella, and many others.

Image of Castor and Pollux from V&A Search the Collections

 


Author: Marina Milojević (Mary)
Fragrantica Writer, Translator & Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfumes and Colognes With Castoreum

1.3610989010989
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3339923406593
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.3319711538462
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.330753043956
Antaeus Chanel
1.281470967033
Les Nombres d’Or Cuir Mona di Orio
1.251789
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.2357335604396
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2314283406593
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2002197802198
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1980396813187
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.1979917362637
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.1795135054945
Yatagan Caron
1.1744605824176
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.1723803516484
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.172180043956
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1684155274725
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1673263406593
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.166901032967
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.162460956044
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1613271758242
Kinski Kinski
1.1593235714286
Sulphur [165] Nu Be
1.1539558901099
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1474037802198
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1436262307692
Men's Style Juvena
1.1408549230769
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1406593406593
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1373622527473
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1367833516484
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1355745604396
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1331318681319
Empreinte Courreges
1.1327415714286
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1324985824176
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1243869010989
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1220879120879
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1218681318681
Djin Michael Storer
1.1211359120879
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1172792747253
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1157225934066
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1127837802198
Intimate Revlon
1.1127593516484
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1104395604396
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1101192637363
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1098662417582
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1036642527473
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1024175824176
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1021978021978
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.1017402747253
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0997925934066
Oud Reminiscence
1.0988471758242
Diorama Dior
1.0986421318681
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0983670549451
Knize Ten Knize
1.0977581318681
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.097414956044
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0940328681319
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.0938099340659
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.0936562527473
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.0927308461538
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0924972307692
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.0907573516484
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.0874726263736
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.0871791538462
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.087075
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.0851803406593
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0842121208791
Allegri Allegri
1.0828130659341
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.0822834945055
Gala Loewe
1.081354978022
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0796461318681
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0784018681319
Beloved Amouage
1.0755053846154
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0751721098901
Occur! Avon
1.0734333626374
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0721982307692
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.071429
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0707082527473
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0698538131868
Koto Shiseido
1.0693388791209
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0661292747253
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0649289010989
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0640497802198
Lonestar Juvena
1.0600001428571
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0577968351648
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0567708351648
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0534708351648
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0529745714286
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0522855054945
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0487291868132
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0477207912088
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.047717967033
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0468712417582
Jais Atkinsons
1.0463121318681
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0441373406593
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.0439731318681
Sharina Rasasi
1.0401139230769
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0365709120879
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.0362412417582
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.0346755824176
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0344394615385
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.032239010989
Fig Aftelier
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0277659010989
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0037362637363
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0020879120879
Reckless Roja Dove
1.000989010989
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0008791208791
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0005494505495
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.0004395604396
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.0004395604396
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0004395604396
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0003296703297
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0003296703297
Misqaal Tola
1.0003296703297
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.0003296703297
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0002197802198
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0002197802198
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0002197802198
Masha Tola
1.0001098901099
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1.0001098901099
Shu Uemura Shu Uemura
1.0001098901099
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1
Attar Maulana La Via del Profumo
1
Mozart Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1
Heritage Man Nabeel
1
Adonis Ajne
1
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
0.99978021978022
Safina Rasasi
0.61516521978022
Bond-T Sammarco

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