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Amber, musk, castoreum… What are your perfumes made of? Ode to animal welfare

As already mentioned in previous articles that reveal the history and properties of perfumes, perfume fragrance consists of a certain composition, verified over the years — a mixture of natural and fragrant substances that make up its composition, a harmonious fusion of individual odors. They can be of both plant and animal origin.

While the world of fragrant substances of plant origin is very diverse: cinnamon oil, vanilla, lavender, Jasmine, rose, oak moss, all kinds of resins…, the natural substances of animal origin are only four — amber, castoreum, musk and civet. Let’s focus on each of them separately.

Ambergris
Ambergris is a waxy substance of black color with a sharp unpleasant smell, formed in the intestines of a sperm whale. Once in the ocean, under the influence of sunlight, it becomes gray and acquires a rather pleasant subtle aroma. Due to this fragrance, ambergris is highly valued in perfumes and is often used as a fixative.

Just a decade ago, ambergris was extracted from dead sperm whales, or collected on the coast and from the surface of the seas. Now natural ambergris is almost impossible to get, in some countries its use is prohibited, in the industry it has learned to produce synthetically and received a full-fledged substitute for this substance — ambroxide. And almost all the collected natural amber is bought up by perfume companies for the production of expensive exclusive perfumes.

Musk
Musk is a strong-smelling substance produced by the seminal glands of certain animals, such as musk deer, beaver, musk ox, or muskrat. Extermination of them for the sake of musk led to a reduction in the number of these animals, which are now listed in the Red Book. There is also vegetable musk contained in Angelica roots, hibiscus seeds and other plants. Musk is widely used in perfumes as a component or fixative of the composition of scented substances.

Previously, to get cabaroglu stream, the animal was killed. Now musk musk is grown in special nurseries (for example, the nursery in Chernogolovka in Russia), and to get musk, the animal is briefly put to sleep and cut out the gland, without causing harm to health.

The beaver jet, or castoreum, is a secret secreted from the beaver’s gland. Now we have learned to get this substance synthetically, and also to take part of the secret from animals on beaver farms. Castoreum has been used in perfumes and medicine since ancient times and was previously valued even more than animal skins. Currently, it is used only in the production of very expensive perfumes as a natural fragrance and odor fixator.

Civet
Civet, or civetin, is a substance secreted by the gland of certain species of civets, small animals belonging to the family of viverra. In their appearance, they are very similar to the marten or cat. Civet is also used in medicine and perfume industry, so many of the viverrids — the object of hunting and breeding in captivity. Seven species of these animals are listed in the Red Book.

Despite the industrial revolution, perfume products based on natural bases, in particular musk, are still ten times more expensive than perfumes based on synthetic bases. As a result, every year, unfortunately, a large number of animals still die in the world…

Tags: perfumes, scents, steam

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