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Animal extracts are always used in minute concentrations because of their overpowering odor. When they are diluted to the right proportion, they give a glorious effect. They give the scent a richness and warmth that only an animal note can give. They are chemically very close to our own sexual aromas. Animal extracts are an essential part of many commercial fragrances. Most animal notes today are synthetically produced to decrease cost and increase supplies.
Ambergris is found in oily gray lumps primarily in the Indian Ocean. There has been much speculation as to the origin of this material. It is found in the ocean in one to seventy pound lumps. The lumps have strong odor that is very unpleasant in its raw state. It must be dissolved in alcohol. After it is processed, the fragrance is very persistent. It was used in scented gloves because the odor would last several years. Today synthetic ambergris is primarily used in replacement of genuine ambergris.
Castoreum is a secretion from the preputial follicles of both male and female castor beavers. It has a strong, disagreeable odor until it is considerably diluted. It then becomes highly fragrant. It is an excellent fixative and gives perfumes a spicy or oriental note. It is very commonly used in men’s fragrances due to the sultry, leathery, smoky note. It is also used in oriental women’s fragrances. Synthetic castoreums are now available, and can be as good as the real thing.
Civet is one of the most important animal materials used for perfume. It is taken from a pouch under the tails of male and female civet cats. Civet has a very strong smell, but is diluted and used in minute quantities. The scent is similar to musk, but has a more smoky, sweaty aroma. It is an excellent fixative, and used in many top-quality perfumes today. Civet is available in artificial substitutes.
Musk is perhaps the most powerful of all perfume fragrances, and the most expensive. Musk comes from the male musk deer. It is extracted from the deer in the form of grains. Musk has been a key constituent in very many perfumes since its discovery. It is currently found in 35% of all men’s perfumes and fragrances. It is a very good fixative, and is exceptionally long lasting. There are many synthetic musks, and musk is one of the most important ingredients in perfumes. Musk in its natural or synthetic form can be found in 90% of all fine fragrances.