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Thread: Ambergris

  1. #61

    Default Re: Ambergris

    RE: ambergris
    I've dissolved a 1 gram piece of brown ambergris in about 15 ml of alcohol and while it's a beautiful amber-colored liquid, it has no aroma, or practically none. I'm trying to concentrate it by drying but this is taking forever. How does a tincture respond to heat? I know that I'll get a more concentrated solution if I use hot alcohol to dissolve the ambergris but does heat do anything to damage the aroma?

  2. #62

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Tinctures are not my top area of expertise and nor is ambergris, however I can tell you two things about alcohol that are relevant:

    First drying / evaporating your ethanol may result in water being absorbed from the air as well as ethanol evaporating off.

    Second Heating alcohol is very dangerous - the quantity you are talking about probably won’t cause a real problem but ethanol vapour is highly flammable and makes an explosive mixture with air that can be set off by minor sparks such as those caused by switching a light on or off.

    Final thought - ambergris is notorious for having very little smell of it’s own, so your tincture may be fine - but also tinctures take a long time - ambergris is normally tinctured for 6 months before use - so you may simply not have given it long enough.

    Hope that helps.
    Chris Bartlett
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  3. #63

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    Also, I believe ambergris tincture is classically prepared at a concentration of 2-3%, so you might not want to concentrate it any more. Did your brown ambergris have much of a scent before tincturing? I bought a big lump on eBay last year, golden brown with some black parts, and it had almost no discernible scent at room temperature. It's been tincturing now for about four months and has just a very very faint ambergris smell, slightly sour milk like.

    In my limited understanding, I believe ambergris tincture (like everything else?) develops in scent due to chemical reactions caused by light, oxygen, heat maybe? And with ambergris (like cjkemp pointed out) it is the degradation products that give it it's desirable scent - ambrein itself is odourless apparently.

    "Upon extraction of the gray to black mass with ethanol followed by photooxidation odorless ambrein yields a strongly ambergris-scented compound, ambrox."

  4. #64

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    the old industry recipe for ambergris tincture is as follows: 3% ambra in a 90% ethyl alcohol. alkali is usually added to neutralize acids and to facilitate solution (a 'solubilizer'). age for not less than 6 months.

    use weight to come up with the ratio. 3 grams ambergris : 97 grams alcohol.

    the tincture can then be concentrated, and become a semi-solid resinoid, i suppose by means of evaporation. this is done to a maximum of 20x, which is called tincture of ambergris 20 fold. it can also be distilled into a resin absolute.

    when tinctured with applied heat, it is an infusion. the difference is that the waxes in ambergris aren't fully soluble in cold alcohol, but they are in heated alcohol. the resulting tincture will be less fluid. i suppose you can filter the wax out after cooling for 24 hours in the fridge. btw, apart from that, ambergris it should almost completely dissolve in alcohol.

    my first advice is to have some patience.

    secondly, be very careful with heating alcohol. if you do feel you need to heat alcohol, make sure it is in a well ventilated room with no fire or sparks, use the au bain marie technique and monitor the temperature constantly. keep the temperature 'warm' but never 'hot'! and never use a container that is tightly sealed. pressure should be able to escape, or the container could explode.

  5. #65

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    My experiments with ambergris continue. I dissolved 2 grams in 10 ml. of hot alcohol. The ambergris broke apart and dissolved almost immediately. It left a residue of black sludge at the bottom of the test tube. I decanted it into a new test tube. While it was hot it was perfectly clear and transparent; when it cooled it got cloudy, indicating to me that I had arrived at a saturated solution. When I put it on my hand, it leaves a waxy residue. It has practically no odor, just an odor that reminds me of ashes--nothing floral, or fecal, or anything. According to my reading, it may have to age for 2 years or so.

  6. #66

    Default Re: Ambergris

    have you read my reply above your last post? there is a lot of information for you there. you can go as high as a tincture with 50% solvent, but you probably cannot reach this by putting 1:1 to tincture. but you could try, and add more alchol after six months if it did not work, go for 30% or something. make sure you write all the amounts down! after you're done, you can filter the waxes. the tincture is then ready for use in perfumery.
    two years waiting is not necessary, but would certainly do no harm either.

  7. #67

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I have five types tinctured and they are nearly a year old now. They smell completely different from each other and the white is a very gentle smell compared to the black. Time seems to be the thing that gives it the fuller feel. The smell doesn't exactly get stronger, just kind of fatter and more full. Not so weedy.

  8. #68

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Mumsy, do you keep your tinctures in the light or the dark? I wonder if it might be interesting to put some in a little vial on a window sill for a couple of months and then compare that to some that had been left in the dark to see what the effects of photo-oxidation are.

    My own are kept on a shelf in a fairly bright room, in clear bottles. I should have kept some in the dark to compare.

  9. #69
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    Default Re: Ambergris

    Nice to find this thread still running...Hey thats an awesome photo of ambergris Chris!.. I've got a few of my collection uploaded now and also a heap of Ambergris Expedition photo's in different albums, just putting together a 2012 Album, feel free to check it out, ot anyone else thats interested in ambergris and the many different ways it can look:

    http://s1192.photobucket.com/albums/...S%20CATALOGUE/

    Glad you liked the gris i sent ya + cant wait for your book to come out!
    http://s1192.photobucket.com/albums/aa325/mattybaba/?action=view&current=SAM_1076.jpg

  10. #70

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Nice, Matt!

    Yeah, I really like the gris you sent. Especially knowing where it came from. It has special meaning, obviously.

    I'm sure you'll get some business from the folks here once they've seen your sample photos.

  11. #71

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    Has anybody thought of focusing an ultra-violet light source on an ambergris tincture to get it to age faster?

  12. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Peterson View Post
    Has anybody thought of focusing an ultra-violet light source on an ambergris tincture to get it to age faster?
    I donít know whether this has been tried, but if Iíve understood the situation correctly it would be the raw ambergris youíd need to put under the light rather than the tincture. I imagine that has indeed been attempted, but Iíve no idea whether or not it works.

    For a guess youíd get an improvement but not as good as the natural ageing process - I would think the difference is a bit like microwaving something vs slow cooking - in the latter case there is more time for chemical changes to take place so even though the energy input might be identical the results are not the same.
    Chris Bartlett
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    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
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  13. #73
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    Default Re: Ambergris

    I think Chris has got it spot on for that particular question... personally i believe no one really knows the best way to age gris (except for mother nature) as its not just UV / sunshine that is involved in the aging process.. other (probably totally necessary) variables are salt/ocean water, heat/cold, wind/dehydration, fresh water/rain... and in what order and % those catalysts are needed are anyones guess... good luck to anyone trying to replicate that process + good luck to anyone trying to sell artificially aged amber gris to discerning clients.
    http://s1192.photobucket.com/albums/aa325/mattybaba/?action=view&current=SAM_1076.jpg

  14. #74

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    I recently made some ambergris tinctures but I used hot alcohol instead of cold. I've been led to believe that this dissolves waxes into the tincture that otherwise wouldn't have dissolved. Is this harmful? I would think that waxes would help the fixative properties of the ambergris.

  15. #75

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Is that harmful? Only if you blow yourself up heating the alcohol.....

    Reading my ancient books on the matter, what you do with your tincture definitely has an effect on the outcome. The length of time it is tinctured and at what temperature. What Poucher refers to is a maintained and constant temperature for a good 20 + days, but then again in those days they were mixing theirs with musk and civet too in copious quantities.

  16. #76

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by James Peterson View Post
    I recently made some ambergris tinctures but I used hot alcohol instead of cold. I've been led to believe that this dissolves waxes into the tincture that otherwise wouldn't have dissolved. Is this harmful? I would think that waxes would help the fixative properties of the ambergris.
    Just to add to this - besides the very real danger of fire and explosion if you donít handle your hot alcohol properly - there is also the consideration that the waxes that go into solution in the hot liquid may then fall back out of solution in, for example, a cold bathroom where the finished perfume sits on a shelf. For this reason youíd probably need to filter them out prior to use and that brings into question whether it was worth getting them into solution in the first place.
    Chris Bartlett
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  17. #77

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    I think the hottest Poucher had it was under the compost heap in horse dung and sand... think of the explosion then!

  18. #78

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    I think Poucher is quoting from an earlier work by Charles Lillie from 1822 in that passage - and yes I can imagine the mess - yuck!

    In my 1959 edition he describes the Ďmoderní method like this:

    30 grammes [of ambergris] are reduced to powder and added to 1 litre of alcohol. The bottles containing about 5 litres are placed in a shaking machine and agitated for several days at a temperature of 25 to 30 C, this aiding in the solution of the ambriene. The bottles are then removed and placed aside with occasional shaking for as long as maturing can be afforded. Filtration is effected a few days before use. Maturing of the extract is more vital in the case of ambergris than in any of the other animal infusions.
    I donít imagine many people are working on that scale today, but the method seems perfectly sound even though at that time the ambrein was thought to be merely a carrier Ďthe structure holding the odorous materials togetherí whereas modern understanding is that ambrox - the essential ingredient and now largely produced by synthetic means - is formed as a degradation product of the ambrien itself. There is a good illustration of the chemical process on the Bo Jensen site.
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

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    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
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  19. #79

    Default Re: Ambergris

    That was off the top of my head.... I've had to dig mine out now and have a look. Mine is a 1950, the fifth edition and yes, it's the same. I didn't use the sugar to grind mine though, I thought it would make it sticky. I'm tempted to recreate that tincture exactly but I'm waiting until I'm wealthy..... might take a while.... and I'll need a horse.

    It says a bit later " Maturing of the extract is more vital in the case of ambergris than in any of the other animal infusions. A raw and unmatured extract is valueless in perfumery. The maintenance of the product at the above-mentioned temperature is the best means of hastening maturation."

    Have you got the Vol 2 Chris? I've been looking for that for a while but i'm not sure how useful it is compared to this one and they are so dear. If you have, is it worth chasing?

    I've just made up the amber from that section to see if it came out ambergris-ish but it's extremely sweet.

  20. #80

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by mumsy View Post

    Have you got the Vol 2 Chris? I've been looking for that for a while but i'm not sure how useful it is compared to this one and they are so dear. If you have, is it worth chasing?

    I've just made up the amber from that section to see if it came out ambergris-ish but it's extremely sweet.
    I do have volume 2 from the same 7th edition. I donít refer to it as often, but it does contain quite a lot of simple formulas which are quite useful as starting points for making your own accords. Most of them include synthetics though, so you may not find them as helpful as I do.

    Quite a bit of the material is very similar to that in the Tony Curtis & David Williams Introduction to Perfumery, which I have in the 2009 edition and so is much more up to date in itís advice: including things like IFRA restrictions in the material summaries for example. If you already have that, I donít think Iíd bother with V2 of the Poucher, but if you donít it might be worth finding.

    I do quite like it for the historical perspective - rather like Septimus Piesse in that respect.

    Iíve never tried that amber accord but with all that vanillin it is bound to be sweet: Iíd have expected a tenth as much.
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
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  21. #81

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I made it with a 1% vanilla because of that and it's still sweet. I wasn't really expecting an ambergris smell from it but was just curious. Old advice is how I learn and I adore historical books just for themselves. It's the quaint use of language and when real men wore flowers. I like that. So far when I encounter a synthetic, I look the smell up and re-enterpret it using naturals. There may come a time for synthetics if I want exam results. There are no rules. I have some lovely books but there is always room for another.

    Back to topic, I have just got the most fantastic piece of white ambergris from NZ. I am having a good snuffle and gloat before I break it for tincture. It hardly has any smell at all and is crumbly and old. Delightful stuff. I shall be an addict forever.

  22. #82

    Default Re: Ambergris

    mumsy, amber isn't the same as ambergris. amber is basically a sweet oriental accord made with vanillin + labdanum.

  23. #83

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    Oh sorry Gido, I did make it sound like that didn't I? I knew it was going to be an amber, but I had put it in the same sentence in such a way. Whichever way, it isn't a very nice amber although it's highly likely that Poucher had much better ingredients than I. I may try again using my own tinctures which are far more ethereal than my EO's.

  24. #84

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I used to get my ambergris from New Zealand but that source has dried up and I've been getting it from Singapore. My experiments continue. I've tinctured four kinds of ambergris--brown, black, white, and "antique." Some of these tinctures I've boiled down (in a double double boiler) to absolutes and am letting them age, in test tubes, in the sun. The current experiments involve tincturing in cold perfumers' alcohol, decanting off the tincture and then re-tincturing the dregs with hot alcohol. I then decant off the hot alcohol and reduce it, to obtain the waxes. When I leave the waxes in the tincture (in other words I tincture with hot alcohol at the beginning) and reduce the tincture, it hardens into a waxy substance of varying color. When I reduce cold-tinctured ambergris, I end up with a very viscous amber liquid. My hypothesis is this: that ambergris matures differently in absolute form than in tincture form. The alcohol in the tinctures seems to retard maturing of the ambergris and the absolutes have developed interesting aromas more quickly. The most interesting absolute is the one made with white ambergris which smells only what I can call "radiant." As though it has literally absorbed light. The other tinctures smell animalic, with one smelling distinctly like castoreum. Another observation is that the waxes have a distinct ambergris aroma that I wouldn't want to loose. I also question how much of a role the waxes play in the fixative properties of ambergris---it occurs to me that they might help the ambergris retain certain aromas. I think it might be best to hot tincture at the beginning to get the full benefits of the ambergris. One hesitation: the absolutes are solid when the ambergris is hot tinctured such that the light doesn't penetrate them in the same way as the absolutes made from the cold tinctures. I don't know if this limits or alters their rate of maturation.

  25. #85
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    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by James Peterson View Post
    I used to get my ambergris from New Zealand but that source has dried up and I've been getting it from Singapore. My experiments continue. I've tinctured four kinds of ambergris--brown, black, white, and "antique." Some of these tinctures I've boiled down (in a double double boiler) to absolutes and am letting them age, in test tubes, in the sun. The current experiments involve tincturing in cold perfumers' alcohol, decanting off the tincture and then re-tincturing the dregs with hot alcohol. I then decant off the hot alcohol and reduce it, to obtain the waxes. When I leave the waxes in the tincture (in other words I tincture with hot alcohol at the beginning) and reduce the tincture, it hardens into a waxy substance of varying color. When I reduce cold-tinctured ambergris, I end up with a very viscous amber liquid. My hypothesis is this: that ambergris matures differently in absolute form than in tincture form. The alcohol in the tinctures seems to retard maturing of the ambergris and the absolutes have developed interesting aromas more quickly. The most interesting absolute is the one made with white ambergris which smells only what I can call "radiant." As though it has literally absorbed light. The other tinctures smell animalic, with one smelling distinctly like castoreum. Another observation is that the waxes have a distinct ambergris aroma that I wouldn't want to loose. I also question how much of a role the waxes play in the fixative properties of ambergris---it occurs to me that they might help the ambergris retain certain aromas. I think it might be best to hot tincture at the beginning to get the full benefits of the ambergris. One hesitation: the absolutes are solid when the ambergris is hot tinctured such that the light doesn't penetrate them in the same way as the absolutes made from the cold tinctures. I don't know if this limits or alters their rate of maturation.
    Sounds like you are on a different level...in a good way.
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  26. #86

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbird View Post
    There's a great explanatory page on Profumo.it and you can buy a sample - the guy who runs it is a Basenoter too!
    http://www.profumo.it/perfume/aromat...mbergris_1.htm
    Thanks for the link. I too have been interesting in Ambergris. Hopefully this link still works.

  27. #87

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Time, time and more time. That makes the best tinctures. The smell of a rushed one is harsher IMO.

    I have been obsessed forever and will continue to be so. I do not believe the alcohol retards the tincture development in the slightest. The tincture merely eventually gets to a saturation point and then develops another nuance from there. It is exactly the same as a good wine settling in the bottle then going onto the next stage. All drinkable but the older the better. That is the beautiful part and it doesn't do to rush it. Gentle warmth helps the initial release but isn't necessary to 'force' the issue unless you need your results to be faster than your ambergris is willing to let you.

    It has taken years and fine chance to get to you. Don't be impatient. Your results will reveal what kind of efforts you put in.

  28. #88

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Grislava is an ingeredient you can buy online from one of the perfume oil sites like perfumersapprentice is supposed to smell like ambergris. Also I get alot of ambergris smell in Kenneth Cole Black. ALthough these are not the real deal, I know.

  29. #89
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    Default Re: Ambergris

    Incredible photo!

  30. #90
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    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by Profumo View Post
    I have pure ambroxan and also cetalox as samples from Firmenish, I can assure you that it comes nowhere near a well seasoned piece of ambergris.

    AbdusSalaam Attar
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    ambergris does not exist in modern perfumery anymore, except some special places like profumo.it etc

    thanks to dear mumsy i got few samples .....and from all the animalics, ambergris smells the most acceptable to me,

    it smells of sea, of sand beach, or something you took out of the see and it got stinky a bit, or see water that is turning...i did not get any association with bad breath smell,nor vomits ....its not that strong smell , its distinctive, has that animalic vibe in most pleasant kind of way, not fecal,its not sharp, it smells of nature

    ambroxan has the same kind of vibe, not beeing strong, and waves of smell that come and go, resemble the behaviour of ambergris...but ambroxan is clean as synthtics can only be....they are 2 different universes

  31. #91

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    Rumors said the old "Tiffany for Men" (not the modern one), a luxury perfume created by Jacques Polge, contained real ambergris.
    Until someone confirms it, it's only a rumor.
    (Anyway, vintage TfM is a great ambery scent)

  32. #92

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    Fascinating Thread

  33. #93

  34. #94

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    This was in Perfumer & Flavorist mag the other day: 183 lbs of ambergris for lucky Ecomare of the Netherlands....

    http://www.perfumerflavorist.com/fra...aign=Most+Read

  35. #95

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    The problem with this ambergris will be the youth of it. It presumably will be minging and very black and soft if it has even got far enough down the intestine to get that way. That sort of very young ambergris is not quite the same thing as the highly valued perfumery ingredient. It is the older kind that has been floating around for years maturing in the sea and the sun that is the really wonderful stuff.

  36. #96
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    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by mumsy View Post
    The problem with this ambergris will be the youth of it. It presumably will be minging and very black and soft if it has even got far enough down the intestine to get that way. That sort of very young ambergris is not quite the same thing as the highly valued perfumery ingredient. It is the older kind that has been floating around for years maturing in the sea and the sun that is the really wonderful stuff.
    I know it seems as though this guy died naturally, but I HATE to hear about whales dying...they were hunted to near extinction for their oil, ambergris, and still are being killed by people who ignore the restrictions. A story like this just whets peoples appetite for killing whales again. I think Ambroxan is a suitable substitute and doesn't cost a whale his life.
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