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

1.5007113387395
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.3905774697681
Antaeus Chanel
1.361422677479
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3468853333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3341866064874
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.3097541744203
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2799108558828
Les Nombres d’Or Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2396244131455
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2357208032437
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2316226064874
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2144282677479
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.2120995679328
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.2112930685731
Yatagan Caron
1.2005690709916
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1984282129748
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.1920735517143
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.18173668758
Empreinte Courreges
1.1787798011097
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1693700872101
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.1688999066724
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1668092677479
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1667633913786
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1628557646891
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1603799167734
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1539882677479
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1524312331768
Kinski Kinski
1.1523270039835
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1522416227059
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.1451775679328
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1438528742353
Men's Style Juvena
1.1409958742353
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1393927322521
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1384879896145
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1371758194622
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1369314969412
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1357040709916
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1356316936975
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1267759614454
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1255690709916
Safina Rasasi
1.124710677479
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1246861478162
Knize Ten Knize
1.1233979228909
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1232721582017
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1224185517143
Djin Michael Storer
1.1221778904538
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1139564097311
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1127144966567
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1112063001849
Oud Reminiscence
1.1094832065728
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1094192839664
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1092464969412
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1064568194622
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1050558699673
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1049825517143
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1036989614454
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.102634310286
Intimate Revlon
1.1025738518993
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.1018104663537
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.0996742068573
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0994616083369
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0993348194622
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.098426320387
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0983085517143
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.098109332622
Diorama Dior
1.0944656936975
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.0938507809077
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0937215171433
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0917916936975
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.0917859816475
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.0873315841514
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0845063812776
Beloved Amouage
1.0844711419832
Allegri Allegri
1.0843901196472
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0829555070423
Occur! Avon
1.0816710486556
Gala Loewe
1.0802843873951
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0766348194622
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.0754906205719
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0750399938825
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0750032839664
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0729117160336
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.072152354958
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0719444969412
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0717886389245
Koto Shiseido
1.0717135354958
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0694642472613
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0674369531939
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0641145354958
Lonestar Juvena
1.0616745009247
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0590902291933
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0536800162185
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0517404198321
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0497252454119
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0494994746052
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0489524623702
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0471047484706
Jais Atkinsons
1.0450926227059
Sharina Rasasi
1.040920977664
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0407113387395
Masha Tola
1.0397400872101
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0388741419832
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.038559354958
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0376128904538
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.0339652129748
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.032672677479
Fig Aftelier
1.0305627484706
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0214574807227
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0171696389245
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0011381419832
Misqaal Tola
1.0009958742353
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0008536064874
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0007113387395
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.0005690709916
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0005690709916
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0004268032437
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0004268032437
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.0004268032437
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0002845354958
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1.0002845354958
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0001422677479
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1.0001422677479
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001422677479
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
0.6152427322521
Bond-T Sammarco

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