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

1.5007224389539
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.3916693948851
Antaeus Chanel
1.3614448779078
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3467433333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3341999267447
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.3212795360497
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2800103878052
Les Nombres d’Or Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2422278134663
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2358719511631
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2316359267447
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2144304877908
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.2128907709869
Yatagan Caron
1.212170609305
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.2005779511631
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1984548534894
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.1921112924433
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1789037535038
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.1731027558156
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.1686930726774
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1677278511776
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1668114877908
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1626311703511
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1606196814044
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1540761441988
Kinski Kinski
1.1539904877908
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1530075110533
Empreinte Courreges
1.1524644616385
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1466136825603
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1453930970958
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1438684145355
Men's Style Juvena
1.1414448779078
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1404573599191
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1382271947695
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1372157802341
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1367046825603
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1357129511631
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1255295791071
Knize Ten Knize
1.1252889755816
Safina Rasasi
1.1247328779078
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1235133651206
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.123323219188
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1224562924433
Djin Michael Storer
1.1222267313972
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1189035122092
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1141452436064
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.113976390117
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.1138712912874
Intimate Revlon
1.1126947244618
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1115640970958
Oud Reminiscence
1.1102386994654
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1094548046525
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1093086581419
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1064967802341
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.10559497038
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1050202924433
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1037566825603
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1031787313972
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.1012788982806
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.1008436785147
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0993747802341
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.09924721861
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0991448040746
Diorama Dior
1.0983462924433
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.0980879488513
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0946656825603
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.0939484627944
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.093376485479
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0902684139575
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.0899479732698
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.0867134872128
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0844889023263
Allegri Allegri
1.0844527302413
Beloved Amouage
1.0842099261667
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0825973401243
Occur! Avon
1.0817709505852
Gala Loewe
1.079817438376
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0793792924433
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.0758895581563
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0751643162838
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0750388046525
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0728761953475
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0721967558156
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0718711901459
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0718621703511
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0717240726774
Koto Shiseido
1.0717179755816
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0677558011848
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0641189755816
Lonestar Juvena
1.0619251930357
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0591501703511
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0537133168617
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.0517735354718
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0503724872128
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0496526575639
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0487043633868
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0471358290709
Jais Atkinsons
1.0451392436064
Sharina Rasasi
1.041011999422
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0407224389539
Masha Tola
1.0397822680249
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0388919023263
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.0386037558156
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0376617313972
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.0339918534894
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0326948779078
Fig Aftelier
1.0305938290709
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0230943656986
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0172495604681
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0011559023263
Misqaal Tola
1.0010114145355
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0007224389539
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0007224389539
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.0005779511631
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0005779511631
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0004334633723
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0004334633723
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0004334633723
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.0002889755816
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0002889755816
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1.0001444877908
Shu Uemura Shu Uemura
1.0001444877908
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001444877908
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1
Attar Maulana La Via del Profumo
1
Heritage Man Nabeel
1
Adonis Ajne
1
Mozart Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
0.615385
Bond-T Sammarco

Popular brands and perfumes: