Castoreum

Fragrance Families: leather/tobacco, oriental
Characteristics: warm, balsamic, animalic
Fragrance Examples: Serge Lutens – L’OrphelineAmouage – Fate WomanThe Different Company – Osmanthus

Castoreum is the name given to the exudate performed over the castor sacs of the mature specimen of two different beaver species; the North American and the European Beaver.

The yellow secretion of the castor sac has been given the name of castoreum. These animals have been known to use this secretion, plus urine to scent and mark territory with both sexual and territorial purposes.

Erroneously confused with endocrine glands, these sacs are actually scent glands and serve the purpose of generating odor only.

Growth, production and Commercialization

These days, trappers are paid to harvest Beaver Castor sacs. Once removed, these sacs are left to dry and age for about two years. After this time, the harshness has been greatly dissipated and the odor is much softer than the original pungent odor.

Formerly used for medicinal purposes, Castoreum is now produced to make tinctures, flavorings and perfumes.

Its chemical composition is quite interesting, but requires a close study in order to be used optimally for the fabrication of perfumes. Because of its complexity in formula, certain considerations must be taken.

First of all, since most scent-related content in the Castoreum is mainly pheromonal, it has been proved that the development of these substances is not static. This means that it is likely to mutate overtime and experience shows that it certainly does.

Secondly, the contents present all sorts of compounds that come from different origins; from plant origin (carbon-based formulas) to oxides and acetates.

Consequently, it is from the tincture that the Castoruem absolute is made as when the substance is molten, it has a more subtle tone that is more pleasant, revealing even musky and fruity hints.

Castoreum Used in the Perfume Industry

Listed under the categories of musk, amber and animalic smells, castoreum has become well-known for its strong, lustful reminiscence of leather.

Either linked to more vintage aesthetics or more sensuous settings, Castoreum is effective in making a statement, both for a person or for a place.

In fact, as far as scenting is concerned, these days most car sprays contain traces of Castoreum that have been included there the mimic the smell of new leather seats, typical of brand new cars. The smell has also been found to be very intense and highly enticing when used for room scenting.

Used as an animalic note, Castoreum has been used in perfume-making to add a leathery-suggestive overtone to any already existing fragrance.

Furthermore, recent technological developments have come up with a variety of blends that combine Castoreum with other highly popular scents.

Many other perfumers have used this substance as their base to make new fragrances. Others however, have opted to introduce certain overtones in order to enhance the original scent of a fragrance.

Even when the original scent is somewhat vanilla-like, combinations that add vanilla to the Castoreum base with high efficiency. Other successful combinations include woody scents that create even a higher impact on the already existing birch-like aroma.

Finally, the inclusion of this fragrance in other types of perfumes creates even newer exotic blends.