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

1.5007080147267
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.3959196677995
Antaeus Chanel
1.3766992353441
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3467343333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.334182617672
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.309728911923
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2935317360521
Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2401665341263
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.235718808836
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.231618617672
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2146384440668
Yatagan Caron
1.2144276029453
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.2105631030869
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.1984202353441
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.1920622500708
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.182249250354
Empreinte Courreges
1.1706111772869
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1699238677428
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.169016911923
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1668086029453
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1653067360521
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1628364854149
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1627902653639
Kinski Kinski
1.1565671180969
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1539876029453
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.152525779949
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1525108677428
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.1438482206174
Men's Style Juvena
1.1409912206174
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1404878694421
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1393933970547
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1370258971963
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1369128824696
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1368806471255
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1358982795242
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1357014117814
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1276904559615
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1275488530161
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1247040294534
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1237159136222
Knize Ten Knize
1.1234249855565
Diorama Dior
1.1233633531577
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1232568677428
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1224072500708
Djin Michael Storer
1.1208086346644
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1201900883602
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1193404706882
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1182134117814
Safina Rasasi
1.1155934559615
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.1146777230246
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1139504265081
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1116105001416
Oud Reminiscence
1.1113942058907
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1095110883602
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1094086471255
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1072151486831
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1060310150099
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1036816765789
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1026835443217
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.1021695307278
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.1018477063155
Intimate Revlon
1.0993228530161
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0989407513452
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0987361183801
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0982972500708
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.0962133537242
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0944490736335
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.089895500708
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.0888965590484
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0875610886434
Occur! Avon
1.0856511472671
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0854269561031
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0853580736335
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.0844658235627
Allegri Allegri
1.0826625446049
Beloved Amouage
1.0813693678845
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0809591619938
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0802208096856
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.078727338431
Gala Loewe
1.0752758530161
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0719063089776
Koto Shiseido
1.0717842795242
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0717122058907
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0695854573775
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0683946618522
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0680988099688
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0662273528745
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0641132058907
Lonestar Juvena
1.0615478683093
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0592138824696
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0560715596148
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0539532500708
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0489648091192
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0488600297366
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0470954412348
Jais Atkinsons
1.0467869266497
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0452202647975
Sharina Rasasi
1.0433984706882
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0397274559615
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0391700147267
Masha Tola
1.039138720759
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0388688235627
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.0375982647975
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.0338156323988
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0326660294534
Fig Aftelier
1.0305534412348
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.0292554412348
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0171457060323
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0009912206174
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0009912206174
Misqaal Tola
1.000849617672
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0007080147267
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.0005664117814
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0005664117814
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.000424808836
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.000424808836
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.000424808836
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0002832058907
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1.0002832058907
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0001416029453
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1.0001416029453
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001416029453
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
0.61524339705466
Bond-T Sammarco

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