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

1.500617512659
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.5002470050636
Lacrima Les Liquides Imaginaires
1.5002470050636
Gandhara Neil Morris
1.4003705075954
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.3889239686304
Antaeus Chanel
1.3509903333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3123556341855
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2798110151908
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2781485075954
Midnight Tryst Neil Morris
1.256420563295
Werewolf Lumberjack Reclining on a Bearskin Rug Smell Bent
1.2563200544646
Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2379682710881
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2250516697542
Yatagan Caron
1.2203765177226
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.2197380202544
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2183960354452
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.2153781063357
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.2112520759541
Beaver Zoologist Perfumes
1.1974880708905
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1912605329134
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.184648537977
Kemi Al Kimiya
1.1804260658268
Cologne Reloaded Bogue
1.1798824354699
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1754847291589
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1750620354452
Tigre Du Bengale Malbrum Parfums
1.1748530658268
Afrika Olifant Nishane
1.166667
Fauna Regime des Fleurs
1.1622780202544
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1593660455724
Atramental Room 1015
1.158378025318
Parfum De La Nuit No 1 Roja Dove
1.1568100607632
Ettore Bugatti Diana De Silva
1.1564970050636
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.1507410151908
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.147059
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.1463904785723
Knize Ten Knize
1.1458690962085
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1441413291342
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1440165582314
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.1432275075954
Audax Fortes Esscentual Alchemy
1.142857
Mozart Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.1421368443868
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1406046088675
Absolute Aphrodisiac Initio Parfums Prives
1.1405575075954
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1397339342967
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1374085835495
Rose Oud Nicolai Parfumeur Createur
1.134763537977
Red Leather PK Perfumes
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Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1307747038409
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1289310556996
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.1270186746943
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1259876139311
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.124523025318
Pearl Oud By Kilian
1.123523050636
Saltus Les Liquides Imaginaires
1.1223782784982
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.1218445798444
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1213466139311
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1188610038286
Kinski Kinski
1.1166280810177
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.116435537977
J'ai Fait Un Reve Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.1162495177226
Men's Style Juvena
1.1134177253304
Sova Slumberhouse
1.1122225227862
Burnt Amber Neil Morris
1.1119950354452
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1118520151908
Andron for Men Jovan
1.1114815075954
Love DSH Perfumes
1.1114130556996
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.111151268371
Empreinte Courreges
1.1102766240583
Portos Balenciaga
1.1097517520069
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1093243645795
Intimate Revlon
1.1091391873533
Knize Ten Golden Edition Knize
1.1081835531678
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1081835531678
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.1080075177226
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1075660405088
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.106499512659
Ven O`Driu
1.1061981721625
Gala Loewe
1.1053179671483
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.1045780860813
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.1043900101272
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1043016493763
Oud Reminiscence
1.1033244974682
Burner Perfume No3: Inuus AetherArtsPerfume
1.1027670101272
Eau d’E Bogue
1.102470050636
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.1023949063851
Fate for Women Amouage
1.1022225075954
Cilice Euphorium Brooklyn
1.1019725531678
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1008260899098
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.100091243053
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0994121101643
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.099321563295
Fetish Roja Dove
1.0990410911449
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0978734696801
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0974550759541
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.096980025318
Fig Aftelier
1.0968565227862
Un Air de Paris Gentlemen Fragrance Dorin
1.0954456544399
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0954340405088
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.0940370354452
Classic Opoponax Von Eusersdorff
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Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0910815734223
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
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Davidoff Davidoff
1.0886875734223
Nitchevo Juvena
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Parfum De La Nuit No 2 Roja Dove
1.0884820050636
Wald Euphorium Brooklyn
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Special for Gentlemen Le Galion
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Occur! Avon
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Linfedele Haiku O`Driu
1.0846915278498
Ambre et Diamant Noir Ambregris
1.0840820532296
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0838110911449
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
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Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.081983024083
Beloved Amouage
1.0817455430406
Djin Michael Storer
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Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
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Lingua Franca MIKMOI
1.0799451265901
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
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DEV #2: The Main Act Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes
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Koto Shiseido
1.0767460202544
Allegri Allegri
1.0752890759541
Sharina Rasasi
1.0743300303816
Blue Hope Xerjoff
1.0740274038533
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0725091924169
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0722455531678
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0718725025318
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0701861670989
Diorama Christian Dior
1.0696105430406
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0693110911449
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0684100556996
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0674602076078
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0671610101272
Victory Boadicea the Victorious
1.0668979645548
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0663325924416
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0659125025318
Gold Saskia Diez
1.064970050636
Bass Ephemera by Unsound
1.0649298506854
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0640770050636
Lonestar Juvena
1.063367705076
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0631151468445
Land Of Warriors The Vagabond Prince
1.062493563295
Red Hoba Xerjoff
1.0622790151908
L'Air de Panache The Grand Budapest Hotel
1.0605980759541
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0591776341855
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0589475025318
Safina Rasasi
1.0586910354452
Masha Tola
1.0581322784982
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.055412512659
Bouquet de Faunes Guerlain
1.053435
Silly Love Partisan Parfums
1.0494985227862
Pancaldi Pancaldi

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