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

1.500730994152
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.3905425906433
Antaeus Chanel
1.3614619883041
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3460593333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3342101929825
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.3213445555556
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2802972046784
Les Nombres d’Or Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2422749005848
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2358787953216
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2316461929825
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2122253625731
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.2031670526316
Yatagan Caron
1.2005847953216
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1987677836257
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.198137380117
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.192140380117
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1812821929825
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.170805
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1686067602339
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1678813684211
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1675441929825
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1669593976608
Safina Rasasi
1.1668131988304
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1565008245614
Kinski Kinski
1.1548634502924
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1539921988304
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1525613099415
Empreinte Courreges
1.152422877193
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1516567719298
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1438803918129
Men's Style Juvena
1.1427555614035
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1414619883041
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1389489707602
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1382699707602
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1380589766082
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1372465789474
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1357197953216
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1348927134503
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1296023976608
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1247499883041
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1230701754386
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1227777777778
Djin Michael Storer
1.1218550994152
Knize Ten Knize
1.1151865380117
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1141811754386
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.1134501812865
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1131634912281
Intimate Revlon
1.1120082163743
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1114301812865
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1111373333333
Diorama Dior
1.1096815614035
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1092103684211
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1065275789474
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1046545789474
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1038863450292
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.1038011695906
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1029239766082
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.1021100584795
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.0994898362573
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0994055789474
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0993567251462
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0986202046784
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.098375380117
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.0980014269006
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0974089649123
Oud Reminiscence
1.0947101695906
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.0902043450292
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.0896540116959
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.0845025906433
Allegri Allegri
1.0841441461988
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0827598888889
Occur! Avon
1.0826096900585
Beloved Amouage
1.0815555497076
Gala Loewe
1.0797499473684
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.079408380117
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.076497754386
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0729950175439
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0725967719298
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0722309766082
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0717213976608
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0716377602339
Koto Shiseido
1.0716159707602
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0715527953216
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0669367017544
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0655843859649
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0645643391813
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0641223976608
Lonestar Juvena
1.0614474327485
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0591963684211
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0537389824561
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0528747134503
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0508901637427
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0500077192982
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0486423918129
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.0473059824561
Jais Atkinsons
1.0451751754386
Sharina Rasasi
1.0449326140351
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0409359532164
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0398147777778
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0383455789474
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0374069766082
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.035213994152
Masha Tola
1.0340123859649
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0327119883041
Fig Aftelier
1.0306177836257
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0238301871345
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0173111578947
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0011695906433
Misqaal Tola
1.0010233918129
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.000730994152
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.000730994152
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0005847953216
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0005847953216
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0004385964912
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.0004385964912
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0004385964912
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0002923976608
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0001461988304
Shu Uemura Shu Uemura
1.0001461988304
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1.0001461988304
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001461988304
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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