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

1.5007092198582
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.3941884113475
Antaeus Chanel
1.3617021276596
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3468003333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3341840638298
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.309738070922
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2799785390071
Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2395883120567
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2357195319149
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2316200638298
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2144278439716
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.2123696950355
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.2104965886525
Yatagan Caron
1.1984231276596
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.1920663475177
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1819860496454
Empreinte Courreges
1.1699491985816
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1696457234043
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.169026070922
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1668088439716
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1649573829787
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1628434751773
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1604759929078
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1541666595745
Kinski Kinski
1.1539878439716
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1525164113475
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.1522731843972
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1451640070922
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1438499078014
Men's Style Juvena
1.1409929078014
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1399113475177
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1397878439716
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1393931560284
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1369196312057
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1368845035461
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1357023758865
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1356210992908
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1273323191489
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1255673758865
Safina Rasasi
1.1247064397163
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1243145673759
Knize Ten Knize
1.1233758865248
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1232624113475
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1224113475177
Djin Michael Storer
1.1190625673759
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1186449929078
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1154561914894
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.1139525957447
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1118894397163
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1113946879433
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1113350070922
Oud Reminiscence
1.1094125035461
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1092346312057
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1061743971631
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1049753475177
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1036879432624
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1025535106383
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.1024492411348
Intimate Revlon
1.101333787234
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.0996453900709
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0993271914894
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.098883070922
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0984948510638
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0983013475177
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.0980834822695
Diorama Dior
1.0966463829787
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0964729787234
Gala Loewe
1.0944550992908
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.094115822695
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0932813546099
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0918566312057
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.0916392553191
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.0846530425532
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.084467751773
Allegri Allegri
1.0843761489362
Beloved Amouage
1.0829135531915
Occur! Avon
1.0801213546099
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0798451702128
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0752801914894
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0729184964539
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.072791106383
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0721438794326
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.071790787234
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0717733829787
Koto Shiseido
1.0717126879433
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0680338723404
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0678426099291
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0641136879433
Lonestar Juvena
1.0613858156028
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.059078787234
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0539573475177
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0530271347518
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0517065177305
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0495656028369
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0486982340426
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0470988156028
Jais Atkinsons
1.0453674113475
Sharina Rasasi
1.0409036028369
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.039732035461
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0391712198582
Masha Tola
1.038870751773
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.0385508794326
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0376035673759
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.0339601276596
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0326684397163
Fig Aftelier
1.0305568156028
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0214519716312
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0171543829787
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0009929078014
Misqaal Tola
1.0009929078014
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0008510638298
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0007092198582
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.0005673758865
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0005673758865
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0004255319149
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0004255319149
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
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Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0002836879433
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1.0002836879433
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0001418439716
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1.0001418439716
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001418439716
Shu Uemura Shu Uemura
1
Mozart Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1
Adonis Ajne
1
Attar Maulana La Via del Profumo
1
Heritage Man Nabeel
0.61524315602837
Bond-T Sammarco

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