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

1.5006619009796
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.5
Lacrima Les Liquides Imaginaires
1.4060451154355
Antaeus Chanel
1.3764561821551
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3476913333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3341272811755
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.3122114890124
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2850052787927
Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2727964217633
Beaver Zoologist Perfumes
1.2623037445062
Werewolf Lumberjack Reclining on a Bearskin Rug Smell Bent
1.2411162766746
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2320928019592
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2194119009796
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2098913449828
Yatagan Caron
1.1983095623511
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.1933616454858
Cologne Reloaded Bogue
1.1925673643103
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1841572078369
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.1811578790045
Empreinte Courreges
1.1734643068573
Portos Balenciaga
1.1645993619275
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1632830293884
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1624083484247
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.161336885094
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.1580547640985
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1577626198041
Andron for Men Jovan
1.1570760648663
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1545079009796
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.153846
Mozart Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
1.153456815462
Kinski Kinski
1.1529123643103
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1511914217633
Un Air de Paris Gentlemen Fragrance Dorin
1.1437836613715
Men's Style Juvena
1.1436387860736
Rose Oud Nicolai Parfumeur Createur
1.1408076198041
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1400938901244
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1392920354779
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.1372530831348
Ettore Bugatti Diana De Silva
1.1372510672491
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1369978435266
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1356645207837
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1356492652899
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1349430672491
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1279123643103
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1273851432354
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1263238019592
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1251464781573
Knize Ten Knize
1.1251323801959
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.1248765623511
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1241037860736
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1222504633307
Djin Michael Storer
1.1187219841144
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1179117603918
Safina Rasasi
1.1172870148266
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1158153643103
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.1141557445062
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.1131021344983
Sova Slumberhouse
1.1124724890124
Oud Reminiscence
1.1123024217633
Burnt Amber Neil Morris
1.1119810354779
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.1112433801959
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1109183899921
Gala Loewe
1.1109062997088
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1105133325391
Diorama Christian Dior
1.1093667860736
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1079372811755
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1075517860736
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.105714885094
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.1056984633307
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1038390256818
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1029622091607
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.1018553068573
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1009382433148
Intimate Revlon
1.1008719438708
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.0992154193805
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0981404633307
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.0977296687847
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0972431382049
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.096773275086
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0962148019592
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.0948090415674
Ambre et Diamant Noir Ambregris
1.0922328019592
Kemi Kemi Blending Magic
1.0917032811755
L'Air de Panache The Grand Budapest Hotel
1.0888546039185
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0887780415674
Linfedele Haiku O`Driu
1.0879644633307
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0844289205719
Occur! Avon
1.0840695721472
Knize Ten Golden Edition Knize
1.0818282689966
Beloved Amouage
1.0805842909717
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0803283325391
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0801001247021
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.0795706039185
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0764271088165
DEV #2: The Main Act Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes
1.0748865440826
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0719324058777
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0716937603918
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0715650672491
Koto Shiseido
1.0706787556262
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.070577770188
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0703026211279
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0701769205719
Davidoff Davidoff
1.0692531821551
Fig Aftelier
1.0691785366693
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0682310672491
Land Of Warriors The Vagabond Prince
1.068182
Eau d’E Bogue
1.0680686039185
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0677260415674
Allegri Allegri
1.0651504352661
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0640947603918
Lonestar Juvena
1.0633859841144
Special for Gentlemen Le Galion
1.0590880256818
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0586726272174
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0579253582208
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0578646137146
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0574288435266
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0573988019592
Masha Tola
1.0474958435266
Jais Atkinsons
1.0465650672491
Epices L.T. Piver
1.046099770188
Amber Oud Nicolai Parfumeur Createur
1.0455741821551
Misqaal Tola
1.0454145048981
Sharina Rasasi
1.0398676198041
Blue Hope Xerjoff
1.0392901088165
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0392654058777
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0366425048981
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0329199009796
Pancaldi Pancaldi
1.0303098019592
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0294976613715
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0174785207837
Red Hoba Xerjoff
1.0013238019592
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0007942811755
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0005295207837
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.0005295207837
Audax Fortes Esscentual Alchemy
1.0003971405878
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.0003971405878
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0003971405878
Myth of Saso Shiseido
1.0003971405878
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0003971405878
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0002647603918
Cerequio Acqua Delle Langhe
1.0002647603918
Metropolis DSH Perfumes
1.0002647603918
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1.0002647603918
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0002647603918
Gandhara Neil Morris
1.0002647603918
Midnight Tryst Neil Morris
1.0001323801959
Shu Uemura Shu Uemura
1.0001323801959
Gold Saskia Diez
1.0001323801959
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001323801959
Eclat Novaya Zarya

Popular brands and perfumes: