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

1.5007083156254
Feromone pour homme (Pheromone for man ) La Via del Profumo
1.3956298682533
Antaeus Chanel
1.3766999575011
Cuir Gardenia Aftelier
1.3467343333333
Opium Yves Saint Laurent
1.3341829787505
The Hermit Esscentual Alchemy
1.3097311987534
Ambra di Luna Ramon Monegal
1.2916053625159
Cuir Mona di Orio
1.2403196576002
Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso
1.2357189893753
Labdanum 18 Perfume Oil Le Labo
1.2316189787505
Signor Vivara Emilio Pucci
1.2144276631251
Youth Memory The Fragrance Kitchen
1.2143968825613
Yatagan Caron
1.2105652093781
Pour Homme Ted Lapidus
1.1984209575011
Otter Luvr Smell Bent
1.1920632731265
Sexual Healing Mark Buxton
1.1822543656325
Empreinte Courreges
1.1704813093923
Labdanum 18 Le Labo
1.169925251877
Sulphur [16S] Nu Be
1.1690191987534
Royal Pavillon Etro
1.1668086631251
Gringo La Via del Profumo
1.1653176887661
Mad Madame Juliette Has A Gun
1.1628382306276
Portos Cristobal Balenciaga
1.1575954475138
Kinski Kinski
1.1564756175096
Ambrarem Histoires de Parfums
1.1539876631251
Grezzo (d'eleganza) La Via del Profumo
1.1525335431364
Winter Woods Sonoma Scent Studio
1.152512251877
Rose Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.1451582200028
gs02 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.1438486418756
Men's Style Juvena
1.1409916418756
Red Leather PK Perfumes
1.1409387962884
Midnight Oud Juliette Has A Gun
1.1393933368749
Nebula 1 Oliver & Co.
1.1369145675025
Saffron Rose Grossmith
1.1368816100014
Un Air d’Arabie Rose of Taif Dorin
1.1357016525004
Abu Dhabi AUH The Scent of Departure
1.1356165781272
Nitchevo Juvena
1.1276915993767
Fetish Roja Dove
1.1275499362516
Wild Tobacco Illuminum
1.1273268937527
Alameda Robert Piguet
1.1255666525004
Safina Rasasi
1.1247046312509
JCC No. 2 Castelbajac
1.1237427537895
Knize Ten Knize
1.1234287768806
Diorama Dior
1.1233664825046
Fetish Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.123258251877
Jil Sander Man I (Man Pure) Jil Sander
1.1224082731265
Djin Michael Storer
1.1204503819238
Amouage Epic Man Amouage
1.1190585887519
Vivace Sospiro Perfumes
1.1155945993767
Six Scents Series Three 6 Ohne Titel: M Six Scents
1.1144296019266
Enchanted Forest The Vagabond Prince
1.1139509681258
Mystic Oud Historiae
1.111612546253
Oud Reminiscence
1.1113943262502
Body Language House of Matriarch
1.1095128937527
Collection Rouge No2 M. Micallef
1.1094096100014
Marbert Woman Marbert
1.1069552925344
Memoir Woman Amouage
1.1060354081315
Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio
1.1036832412523
Les 4 Saisons: Yellow Sea M. Micallef
1.1028559650092
Intimate Revlon
1.1024031668792
Knize Ten Gold Edition Knize
1.1016218950276
Cruel Intentions By Kilian
1.0993239362516
Rose Oud Illuminum
1.0989601894036
06 Incense Rose Tauer Perfumes
1.0987467100156
Chypre Palatin MDCI Parfums
1.0982982731265
Cologne Bensimon 1993 Bensimon
1.096464840629
Gala Loewe
1.0959413412665
Fate for Women Amouage
1.0944505781272
Septieme Sens (7e Sens) Sonia Rykiel
1.0908740787647
Cuir Pleine Fleur James Heeley
1.0888998087548
Danger Pour Homme Roja Dove
1.0877618193795
Black Oud LM Parfums
1.0875669862587
Occur! Avon
1.0856541562544
Amour de Palazzo Jul et Mad Paris
1.0853595781272
Leonard Pour Homme Leonard
1.0844663050007
Allegri Allegri
1.0842944718799
Sova Slumberhouse
1.0819482593852
Beloved Amouage
1.0803958193795
Fireside Intense Sonoma Scent Studio
1.0802332668933
Romantina Juliette Has A Gun
1.0752769362516
Scarlet Oud Illuminum
1.0727797268735
A Rebours Friendly Fur
1.0719085356283
Koto Shiseido
1.0717859043774
Colonia Russa Santa Maria Novella
1.0717123262502
Pour Homme Omar Sharif
1.0697487250319
Calamity J. Juliette Has A Gun
1.0683959256269
Secret Garden Aftelier
1.0679443700241
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.0641133262502
Lonestar Juvena
1.061415773764
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d`Orange
1.0592155675025
Madame X Ava Luxe
1.0560829937668
Atelier d'Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford
1.0539542731265
Diable Au Corps Donatella Pecci Blunt
1.049489386882
Oud for Love The Different Company
1.0489690818813
gs03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0470962837512
Jais Atkinsons
1.0465061881286
Amber Oud Parfums de Nicolaï
1.0452215887519
Sharina Rasasi
1.0397285993767
Reckless Roja Dove
1.0391703156254
Masha Tola
1.0391411881286
Sweet Dreams 2003 A Lab on Fire
1.0388693050007
Mirabella DSH Perfumes
1.0388305887519
Coach Signature Rose D'Or Coach
1.0375995887519
Jil Sander Woman II Jil Sander
1.033816294376
al03 biehl parfumkunstwerke
1.0326666312509
Fig Aftelier
1.0305542837512
Hascish Homme Veejaga
1.0301619468763
Tendre Est La Nuit Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.027778
Roses des Vents Sud Dorin
1.0171478725032
Epices L.T. Piver
1.0009916418756
Misqaal Tola
1.0009916418756
Songe Pour Elle Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives
1.0008499787505
Jil Sander Man II Jil Sander
1.0007083156254
Megaleion DSH Perfumes
1.0005666525004
Cachet Noir Prince Matchabelli
1.0005666525004
Arabia La Via del Profumo
1.0004249893753
Haute Couture Mila Schön
1.0004249893753
Tcharas La Via del Profumo
1.0004249893753
Fire Roberta Andrade
1.0002833262502
Tabac Blanc Roberta Andrade
1.0002833262502
Loverose Lena Hoschek
1.0001416631251
Lucky Number 10 Dzintars
1.0001416631251
Shu Uemura Shu Uemura
1.0001416631251
Eclat Novaya Zarya
1
Adonis Ajne
1
Heritage Man Nabeel
1
Attar Maulana La Via del Profumo
1
Mozart Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
0.61524333687491
Bond-T Sammarco

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