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

1.5007065140596
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.3968978026
Antaeus Chanel
1.3766956337431
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3467343333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3341808168716
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.3097175068532
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2936184145825
Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2396854802883
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2357179084358
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2316168168716
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2147127571005
Yatagan Caron
1.2144273028119
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.2105525984174
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.1984166337431
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.1920571478027
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1822237390137
Empreinte Courreges
1.1706936539494
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1699169646743
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.1690055068532
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1668083028119
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1667767173944
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1628277815459
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1626015414724
Kinski Kinski
1.1547460064999
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1539873028119
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1524870627384
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1438461196835
Men's Style Juvena
1.1409891196835
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1404111175639
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1393936971881
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1371870843578
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1370159927936
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1368758449908
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.135890175922
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1357002112477
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1276847534266
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1275434506147
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1247010281193
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.123815175922
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.123630351844
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1234060771513
Diorama Dior
1.1233683569309
Knize Ten Knize
1.1232499646743
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1224021478027
Djin Michael Storer
1.1206420606189
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1204636899816
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1193332674862
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1182122112477
Safina Rasasi
1.1155877534266
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.1145263562244
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1139477253073
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1113936056239
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1095020843578
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1094038449908
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1085782956055
Oud Reminiscence
1.1070980966511
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1060091052706
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1039564787339
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1026688377844
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.1020746885686
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.1016751896284
Intimate Revlon
1.0993727462201
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0993174506147
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0987025054402
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.098683294899
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0982921478027
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.0965808370779
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0944415702981
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.0900561752155
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.088880351844
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0873903727568
Occur! Avon
1.0856361405963
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0853505702981
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.0845509848806
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0844634224954
Allegri Allegri
1.0826274289953
Beloved Amouage
1.0814935630917
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0809426546559
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0787132321605
Gala Loewe
1.0755530562385
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0718952040413
Koto Shiseido
1.071776175922
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0717116056239
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0692494066695
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0683883590504
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0670378789035
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0662321550092
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0641126056239
Lonestar Juvena
1.0615001470962
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0592054787339
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0557735342659
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0539481478027
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0488366193302
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.048378288399
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.047091239367
Jais Atkinsons
1.0467740209128
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0452136618624
Sharina Rasasi
1.0418532674862
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0397217534266
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0391685140596
Masha Tola
1.039126415289
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0388664224954
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.0375916618624
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.0338123309312
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.030549239367
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.029251239367
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0278703309312
Fig Aftelier
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0171349012293
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0009891196835
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0009891196835
Misqaal Tola
1.0008478168716
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0007065140596
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.0005652112477
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0005652112477
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0004239084358
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0004239084358
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.0004239084358
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0002826056239
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1.0002826056239
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0001413028119
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1.0001413028119
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001413028119
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
0.61524369718807
Bond-T Sammarco

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