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

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Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
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Lacrima Les Liquides Imaginaires
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Antaeus Chanel
1.3513893333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.333688366027
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
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Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
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Gandhara Neil Morris
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Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
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Werewolf Lumberjack Reclining on a Bearskin Rug Smell Bent
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Cuir Mona di Orio
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Black Adamant G Parfums
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Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
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№ 5 Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Yatagan Caron
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The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
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Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
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Otter Luvr Smell Bent
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Chypre 1950 YanFroloff Perfumer
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Peau de Bete Les Liquides Imaginaires
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Beaver Zoologist Perfumes
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Cologne Reloaded Bogue
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Cuir de Russie Art Deco Perfumes
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Absolute Aphrodisiac Initio Parfums Prives
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Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
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Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
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Afrika Olifant Nishane
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Beaver 2016 Zoologist Perfumes
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Tigre Du Bengale Malbrum Parfums
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Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
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Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
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Black Stone Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Kemi Kemi Blending Magic
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Fauna Regime des Fleurs
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King Arthur Art Deco Perfumes
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Atramental Room 1015
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Andron for Men Jovan
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Body Language House of Matriarch
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Vinegia The Merchant of Venice
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Ettore Bugatti Diana De Silva
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Knize Ten Knize
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Adjatay The Different Company
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Black Gardenia Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
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Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
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Amouage Epic Man Amouage
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Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
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Loverose Lena Hoschek
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Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
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Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
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Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
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Parfum De La Nuit No 1 Roja Dove
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Cuir de Russie Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Audax Fortes Esscentual Alchemy
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Mozart Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
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Couleurs de Nuit Novaya Zarya
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100 Tweeds Euphorium Brooklyn
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Salome Papillon Artisan Perfumes
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Eternal Voyage Auphorie
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Red Leather PK Perfumes
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Quality Of Flesh Homoelegans
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Labdanum 18 Le Labo
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Fire Roberta Andrade
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Black Oud LM Parfums
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Gringo La Via del Profumo
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Memoir Woman Amouage
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L'Eau Scandaleuse Anatole Lebreton
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Royal Pavillon Etro
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Rose Oud Nicolai Parfumeur Createur
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Love DSH Perfumes
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Alameda Robert Piguet
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Honey and Tar Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Saffron Rose Grossmith
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Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
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Kinski Kinski
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Sova Slumberhouse
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Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
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Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
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Scarlet Oud Illuminum
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Hascish Homme Veejaga
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Midnight Tryst Neil Morris
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Gala Loewe
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Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
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Marbert Woman Marbert
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Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
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Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
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Mystic Oud Historiae
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Knize Ten Golden Edition Knize
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Saltus Les Liquides Imaginaires
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Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
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Empreinte Courreges
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Wild Tobacco Illuminum
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Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
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Pearl Oud By Kilian
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gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
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Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
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Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
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Burnt Amber Neil Morris
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Eau d’E Bogue
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Classic Opoponax Von Eusersdorff
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Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
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Sulphur [16S] One of Those
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Reveries de Paris DSH Perfumes
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06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
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Courtesan's Intrigues Nimere Parfums
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J'ai Fait Un Reve Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
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Myth of Saso Shiseido
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Smolderose January Scent Project
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JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
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Fig Aftelier
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Secret Dreams Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Rose Oud Illuminum
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Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
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Wald Euphorium Brooklyn
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Fetish Roja Dove
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Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
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Suédois Euphorium Brooklyn
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Beloved Amouage
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Ambre et Diamant Noir Ambregris
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Nitchevo Juvena
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Les Jardins de Paradis Nimere Parfums
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Special for Gentlemen Le Galion
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Club de Сigares YanFroloff Perfumer
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Arabia La Via del Profumo
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Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
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Sharina Rasasi
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Koto Shiseido
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Safina Rasasi
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Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella

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