Castoreum

lat. Castor fiber (Castoridae)

Group: MUSK, AMBER, ANIMALIC SMELLS

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castoreum Perfumes

1.5005999520038
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.5002399808015
Lacrima Les Liquides Imaginaires
1.4617779808015
Gandhara Neil Morris
1.4003599712023
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.3949361454284
Antaeus Chanel
1.3514593333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3122894816415
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2797899424046
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.26817975042
Werewolf Lumberjack Reclining on a Bearskin Rug Smell Bent
1.2551977441805
Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2376162330214
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2283292359011
Yatagan Caron
1.2203519328054
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.2199499040077
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2183468656108
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.2121336736261
Beaver Zoologist Perfumes
1.1931395488361
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.19121487521
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.1876975296376
Absolute Aphrodisiac Initio Parfums Prives
1.1843307216223
Cologne Reloaded Bogue
1.1799707842573
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1798783009359
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1761337024238
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1754928272138
Tigre Du Bengale Malbrum Parfums
1.1671437792177
Atramental Room 1015
1.1668706736261
Afrika Olifant Nishane
1.166667
Fauna Regime des Fleurs
1.1631219232061
Andron for Men Jovan
1.1621299328054
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1616499712023
Midnight Tryst Neil Morris
1.1605298560115
Kemi Kemi Blending Magic
1.1567257696184
Ettore Bugatti Diana De Silva
1.1544320388769
Knize Ten Knize
1.1522418560115
Parfum De La Nuit No 1 Roja Dove
1.1508399328054
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1474189712023
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.147059
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.1466886945044
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.146335587233
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.145454662827
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1444512534197
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1439357792177
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.1432169712023
Audax Fortes Esscentual Alchemy
1.142857
Mozart Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.1387289616031
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1347108560115
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1344411394288
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1307949712023
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.1297298480922
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.1289249424046
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1276162704584
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1264295200384
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1261496549076
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1252266928246
Rose Oud Nicolai Parfumeur Createur
1.1244099520038
Ven O`Driu
1.1232865488361
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1223749841613
Kinski Kinski
1.121347088073
Sova Slumberhouse
1.1197567888169
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.1178647600192
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.1177027792177
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.1163957024238
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1150126561075
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1147428272138
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1135767600192
Saltus Les Liquides Imaginaires
1.1134153568515
Gala Loewe
1.1122175008399
Portos Balenciaga
1.1122014833213
Intimate Revlon
1.1114709712023
Love DSH Perfumes
1.110772050156
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1106918464123
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1089992800576
Knize Ten Golden Edition Knize
1.1085897600192
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1083347024238
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1080269440845
Empreinte Courreges
1.1056353138949
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.1048143760499
Oud Reminiscence
1.1044883426926
Fate for Women Amouage
1.1043759616031
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1042879328054
Men's Style Juvena
1.1041996640269
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1040118272138
J'ai Fait Un Reve Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.103888350612
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.1036966577874
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.1033280095992
Burner Perfume No3: Inuus AetherArtsPerfume
1.1026919328054
Cilice Euphorium Brooklyn
1.1010799136069
Burnt Amber Neil Morris
1.1008106544276
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0997180400768
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0996407712983
Davidoff Davidoff
1.0995058656108
Classic Opoponax Von Eusersdorff
1.0994026928246
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.0972347888169
Sulphur [16S] One of Those
1.0969101507079
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0968249136069
Un Air de Paris Gentlemen Fragrance Dorin
1.0958698034557
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0955913856491
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0953907600192
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.0953778464123
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.0947028656108
Pearl Oud By Kilian
1.0943499520038
Myth of Saso Shiseido
1.0939968272138
Linfedele Haiku O`Driu
1.0923869424046
Eau d’E Bogue
1.0914398848092
Fig Aftelier
1.0898617024238
Fetish Roja Dove
1.088377636909
Occur! Avon
1.0873327763379
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0872484816415
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.0865539328054
Aesthete Le Galion
1.0858268944084
Ambre et Diamant Noir Ambregris
1.0853527024238
Nitchevo Juvena
1.0852287729782
Beloved Amouage
1.0844396448284
Special for Gentlemen Le Galion
1.0830008464123
Parfum De La Nuit No 2 Roja Dove
1.0820409232061
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0816858368131
Djin Michael Storer
1.0814397024238
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.0811999040077
Wald Euphorium Brooklyn
1.0786336352292
Koto Shiseido
1.0775823856491
DEV #2: The Main Act Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes
1.0771436256299
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0768379136069
Allegri Allegri
1.0757499904008
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0756107312215
Sharina Rasasi
1.0746478560115
Blue Hope Xerjoff
1.0744287600192
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0734524386849
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0721717984161
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0696646160307
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0694124194864
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0691203472522
Diorama Christian Dior
1.0690562704584
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0683817696184
Red Hoba Xerjoff
1.0682438080154
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0675321840653
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0672669520038
Lingua Franca MIKMOI
1.0671469616031
Victory Boadicea the Victorious
1.0669715041997
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0669471343892
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.065789
Gold Saskia Diez
1.0640699808015
Lonestar Juvena
1.0633254048476
Land Of Warriors The Vagabond Prince
1.0625
Safina Rasasi
1.0621379520038
L'Air de Panache The Grand Budapest Hotel
1.0618237600192
Bass Ephemera by Unsound
1.0607700112791
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0585230976722
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0575808656108
Masha Tola
1.0558954720422
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0550996736261
Reckless Roja Dove

Popular brands and perfumes: