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

1.500731635938
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.4998536728124
Safina Rasasi
1.3904265557507
Antaeus Chanel
1.3614632718759
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3460593333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3342109631255
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.3213494331285
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2803186403278
Les Nombres d’Or Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2419785238513
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2358793087504
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2316469631255
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2122294700029
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.2032490728709
Yatagan Caron
1.2005853087504
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1987695806263
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.1979932350015
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.1921425621891
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1810122578285
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1708269490781
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1686111243781
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.167884834065
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1675449631255
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1668133271876
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1574630781387
Kinski Kinski
1.1545872256365
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1539923271876
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1525711934445
Empreinte Courreges
1.1524363546971
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1516598525022
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1465151796898
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1438812903131
Men's Style Juvena
1.1427597971905
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1414632718759
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1382731796898
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1380615437518
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1372488893766
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1357203087504
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.134946110038
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1296026543752
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1247512718759
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1230728709394
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1227802165642
Djin Michael Storer
1.1219100362891
Knize Ten Knize
1.1151933409423
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1141838709394
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.1134522350015
Fetish Roja Dove
1.113175428446
Intimate Revlon
1.111779612233
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1114322350015
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1111446496927
Diorama Dior
1.1093126628622
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.109213834065
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1065298893766
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1049934419081
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1038923778168
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.1038045068774
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1029265437518
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.1017085572139
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.0994078893766
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0993649400059
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0992371009658
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0986416403278
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0983775621891
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.0974128156277
Oud Reminiscence
1.0969971150132
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0947135068774
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.0902256772022
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.0902103778168
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.0845036175007
Allegri Allegri
1.0841500506292
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0823291012584
Beloved Amouage
1.0815610690664
Gala Loewe
1.0797557234416
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0794105621891
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.0767580828212
Occur! Avon
1.0765027603161
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0729930921861
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0724754743927
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0722335437518
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0717216543752
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0716421243781
Koto Shiseido
1.0716191796898
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0715972069066
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0669694328358
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0655859262511
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0645710137548
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0641226543752
Lonestar Juvena
1.0611731334504
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.059199834065
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0537409078139
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0527378846942
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0508941428153
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0500165759438
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0486432903131
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.0473079078139
Jais Atkinsons
1.0451778709394
Sharina Rasasi
1.0446603684519
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0409410875037
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0398172165642
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0383478893766
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0374095437518
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.035214635938
Masha Tola
1.0340139262511
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0327132718759
Fig Aftelier
1.0306195806263
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0238315990635
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0049751243781
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0011706175007
Misqaal Tola
1.0010242903131
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.000731635938
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.000731635938
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0005853087504
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0005853087504
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0004389815628
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.0004389815628
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0004389815628
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0002926543752
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0001463271876
Shu Uemura Shu Uemura
1.0001463271876
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1.0001463271876
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001463271876
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1
Attar Maulana La Via del Profumo
1
Mozart Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1
Adonis Ajne
1
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1
Heritage Man Nabeel
0.615385
Bond-T Sammarco

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