Castoreum

lat. Castor fiber (Castoridae)

Group: MUSK, AMBER, ANIMALIC SMELLS

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castoreum Perfumes

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Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
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Sacred 786 Elixir JoAnne Bassett
1.42128037608
Lacrima Les Liquides Imaginaires
1.4005810418372
Antaeus Chanel
1.38484237608
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
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Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.2966370641201
Gandhara Neil Morris
1.288672218281
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2841959531605
Werewolf Lumberjack Reclining on a Bearskin Rug Smell Bent
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Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
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Cuir Mona di Orio
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Black Adamant G Parfums
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Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
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Yatagan Caron
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The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
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Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
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Beaver Zoologist Perfumes
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Otter Luvr Smell Bent
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Bond-T Sammarco
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Chypre 1950 YanFroloff Perfumer
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Cologne Reloaded Bogue
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Gringo La Via del Profumo
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Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
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Cuir de Russie Art Deco Perfumes
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Afrika Olifant Nishane
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Peau de Bete Les Liquides Imaginaires
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Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
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Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.175380466121
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
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Absolute Aphrodisiac Initio Parfums Prives
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Atramental Room 1015
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Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
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Tigre Du Bengale Malbrum Parfums
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Love DSH Perfumes
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Fauna Regime des Fleurs
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Kemi Kemi Blending Magic
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Knize Ten Knize
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Andron for Men Jovan
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Ettore Bugatti Diana De Silva
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Body Language House of Matriarch
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Great Britain Roja Dove
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Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
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Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
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Amouage Epic Man Amouage
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№ 5 Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
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Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
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Loverose Lena Hoschek
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Baptême du Feu Serge Lutens
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Adjatay The Different Company
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Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
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Beaver 2016 Zoologist Perfumes
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Vinegia The Merchant of Venice
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Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
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Pearl Oud By Kilian
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Honey and Tar Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
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L'Eau Scandaleuse Anatole Lebreton
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Black Stone Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Labdanum 18 Le Labo
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Memoir Woman Amouage
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Red Leather PK Perfumes
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Couleurs de Nuit Novaya Zarya
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Fire Roberta Andrade
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Dark Velvet Isabelle Ariana Parfums
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Black Gardenia Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
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Classic Opoponax Von Eusersdorff
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Audax Fortes Esscentual Alchemy
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Quality Of Flesh Homoelegans
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King Arthur Art Deco Perfumes
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Black Oud LM Parfums
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Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
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Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
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Parfum De La Nuit No 1 Roja Dove
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Kinski Kinski
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Alameda Robert Piguet
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Sova Slumberhouse
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Incense Oud Nicolai Parfumeur Createur
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Saffron Rose Grossmith
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Royal Pavillon Etro
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Scarlet Oud Illuminum
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Midnight Tryst Neil Morris
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Salome Papillon Artisan Perfumes
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Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
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Rosuerrier Pryn Parfum
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Fate for Women Amouage
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El Arquiste
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Ember Wax Poetic
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Gala Loewe
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Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
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Rose Oud Nicolai Parfumeur Createur
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Mystic Oud Historiae
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Portos Balenciaga
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Men's Style Juvena
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Victory Boadicea the Victorious
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Cruel Intentions By Kilian
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Wild Tobacco Illuminum
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Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
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Eternal Voyage Auphorie
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06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
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Eau d’E Bogue
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Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
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Bourbon Hendley Perfumes
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Wald Euphorium Brooklyn
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Reveries de Paris DSH Perfumes
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Allegri Allegri
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Wolfsbane Parfums Quartana
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Un Air de Paris Gentlemen Fragrance Dorin
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Cuir de Russie Anna Zworykina Perfumes
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Sulphur [16S] One of Those
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gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
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Myth of Saso Shiseido
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Oud Abramad Parfums BDK Paris
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Blue Hope Xerjoff
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Beloved Amouage
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Marbert Woman Marbert
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JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
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Rose Oud Illuminum
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Charuto House of Orpheus
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Fig Aftelier
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DEV #2: The Main Act Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes
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Occur! Avon
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Koto Shiseido
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Ambre et Diamant Noir Ambregris
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Fetish Roja Dove

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