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

1.5007243227582
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.3906373723019
Antaeus Chanel
1.3614486455164
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3463763333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3342021873099
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.3212938529625
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2787232446762
Les Nombres d’Or Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2433431623932
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2358734582066
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2316381873099
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2144308645516
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.2121826656526
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.208300791395
Yatagan Caron
1.2005794582066
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1984593746197
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.192117697378
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1800664838476
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1731102910329
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.1687062593075
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1677941610894
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1668118645516
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1626413428944
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1606603715776
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1545477980588
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1539908645516
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1539885472983
Kinski Kinski
1.1527482995799
Empreinte Courreges
1.1466234783427
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1454055302043
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1438710518615
Men's Style Juvena
1.1414486455164
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1396575180356
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1382366137911
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1372225619296
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1367144783427
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1357144582066
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1252897291033
Safina Rasasi
1.1247366455164
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1235329566855
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1233318846878
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.122462697378
Djin Michael Storer
1.1222350201362
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1214899963784
Knize Ten Knize
1.1189031354484
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1141531555845
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.1139797809648
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1136188615095
Intimate Revlon
1.1118566504418
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1115765302043
Oud Reminiscence
1.1101588261625
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1094608328263
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1091743428944
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1065035619296
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.10586174866
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.105026697378
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1037664783427
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1031870201362
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.1015349072867
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.1013773337679
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0994161958569
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0993815619296
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0991662794437
Diorama Dior
1.098352697378
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.0981512446762
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0946754783427
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.0939650402723
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0936483282631
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0901416339273
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.0897207864697
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.0867293111691
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0844919164132
Allegri Allegri
1.0843470488194
Beloved Amouage
1.0842276339273
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0826331324062
Occur! Avon
1.081787904824
Gala Loewe
1.0798347693756
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.079385697378
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.0751854148921
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0750448328263
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0728701671737
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0725081812256
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0722042910329
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0720041867304
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0718723428944
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0717372593075
Koto Shiseido
1.0717187291033
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0664897834275
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0641197291033
Lonestar Juvena
1.0615463599884
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0591603428944
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0537189682747
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0518032995799
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0500985820658
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0496786540635
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0483357028828
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.047141103723
Jais Atkinsons
1.0451471555845
Sharina Rasasi
1.0410274466174
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0407243227582
Masha Tola
1.0397894264812
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0388949164132
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.0386112910329
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0376700201362
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.0339963746197
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0326986455164
Fig Aftelier
1.030599103723
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0230985100681
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0172631238592
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0011589164132
Misqaal Tola
1.0010140518615
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0007243227582
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0007243227582
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.0005794582066
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0005794582066
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0004345936549
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0004345936549
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.0004345936549
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0002897291033
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1.0002897291033
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0001448645516
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1.0001448645516
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001448645516
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
0.615385
Bond-T Sammarco

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