Castoreum in perfumery

Castoreum in perfumery

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What is castoreum?

Castoreum is an oily and fragrant secretion produced by animal glands and in particular by two species of the beaver family: the Eurasian beaver fiber and the North American beaver canadensis. These glands are located near the genital tract of the animal and play an essential biological function. In particular, they allow beavers to identify themselves and mark their territory. Thus, they regulate the demographic domain of the beaver and have a social role. Likewise, they have pheromonal activity and allow the reproduction of this species.

Castoreum also helps to waterproof the coat of the beaver. This substance has been described for various uses since ancient times. It is notably cited in medical texts dating from the Byzantine period. Likewise, its use in perfumes dates back to this same period. At the same time, the beaver was then also hunted for its fur and meat. Castoreum has long been used by trappers to attract carnivorous animals to their traps. Finally, it was considered as a remedy against diseases of the uterus, fever, headaches, epilepsy as well as to treat surgical wounds.

Today, it is no longer considered as a therapeutic component but is mainly used in the field of perfumery.it was considered a remedy for diseases of the uterus, fever, headaches, epilepsy as well as for treating surgical wounds. Today, it is no longer considered as a therapeutic component but is mainly used in the field of perfumery.it was considered a remedy for diseases of the uterus, fever, headaches, epilepsy as well as for treating surgical wounds. Today, it is no longer considered as a therapeutic component but is mainly used in the field of perfumery.

The sensual smell of castoreum

Modern perfumery consists of six animal raw materials, namely musk, ambergris, civet, beeswax and castoreum. It has an aggressive odor in its pure state but softer and warmer when diluted. Its scent is reminiscent of leather and fur. It is basically a grace substance, used mainly in amber, oriental and masculine perfumes. Nevertheless, the castoreum is used less and less in perfumery because its extraction requires killing the animal. Thus, most often, perfumers now produce its synthetic equivalent. However, even if technical progress tends to change the smell of it, note that the synthetic molecule of the castoreum does not have all the finesse of the original castoreum. Likewise, know that the castoreum is also used to flavor cigarettes or certain sweets.

Given its high price, the castoreum is generally present in prestigious perfumes. It appears, for example, in Antaeus by Chanel, Bel Ami by Hermès or Dolce Vita by Dior.

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