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  1. #1

    Default Processing Castoreum and Castoreum products

    I am a trapper in Northern Ontario and I am interested in processing castoreum for the fragrance industry and others. As a trapper I sell my castoreum directly to an auction house. I would rather process castoreum into a product first than just sell the raw castoreum. I am looking for any advice/information on how castoreum is used and processed in the fragrance industry. Some questions I have are as follows:
    1. What type of processed products of castoreum exist on the market currently?
    2. Are the products you incorporate oils, ground powders? What is the preferred form of a castor product?
    3. How is raw castoreum processed into the product fragrance producers use? Pressed, ground, distilled?
    4. What prices are currently being paid for processed castoreum product? Currently auction houses are paying $40-60 for raw castoreum.
    I know I have a lot of questions, but any input is appreciated.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Processing Castoreum and Castoreum products

    Most of this I can’t help with, but I can tell you my preferred way of buying castoreum for my own use, which is as castoreum absolute, normally diluted in isoproyl myristate or benzyl benzoate to about 50%. If you follow the link I’ve provided you’ll be able to see links to the main perfumery suppliers of the product, from which you can get pricing.

    Standard packs are about 5kg - more than I would use - so I buy mine through intermediaries such as Perfumer’s Apprentice.

    How you get from animal to absolute I’m afraid I don’t know - if I was making it myself I’d make a tincture, but I don’t think that’s what’s being done on the industrial scale. According to Wikipedia:
    In perfume-making, the term castoreum is more liberally applied to denote the resinoid extract resulting from the dried and alcohol tinctured beaver castor. The dried beaver castor sacs are generally aged for two or more years to mellow and for their raw harshness to dissipate.
    but the citation quoted does not appear to exist . . .

    Hope that’s of some use.

    Edited to add:

    According to Arctander:
    It is customary to prepare an alcohol-resinoid by direct extraction with hot alcohol
    He indicates that this is what is referred to as an absolute, though it isn’t technically, and that it isn’t fully soluble in cold alcohol, which probably explains why it is normally sold pre-dissolved in IPM or BZB.

    I should have thought to look that up before responding in the first place.
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 2nd March 2012 at 01:58 PM. Reason: Added additional information
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  3. #3
    gecko214's Avatar
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    May 2010
    Canton de Vaud, Switzerland

    Default Re: Processing Castoreum and Castoreum products

    I think it would be an interesting business to do, but I would imagine you will not get rich doing it... That said, there seems to be an increasing interest in DIY perfumery and scent making and the age of the internet allows you to have direct access to consumers. This will give you much better margins and also allow you to sell lower than others out there who have to buy from the a few levels up in the chain you sell to at auction. I think direct-to-consumer naturals is a growing business still in its infancy. I know I would buy from you if you had a website and a good product. But not very much. I am just a hobbyist. So you would need lots of people like me...

    As to how to do it I am guessing you will need to do lots of research, trial and error and get some professionally made stuff so you can evaluate the difference. And patience. If your nose is not too good (or even if it is) you may want to enlist some basenoters to do comparative evaluations between your product and the professional ones. I am certain many would volunteer to help. The research I have done on it suggests as Chris has already said, it is done by ethanol tincture or hot extraction. And if you want to make a resinoid, you will need some kind of rotary vacuum evaporation apparatus (actually not too complicated, but will require $$). This may in fact be the easy part. Curing the pods correctly may be the hard part and probably a trade secret. You may also want to be in touch with Dominic Durbano of, who does his own castoreum tinctures and who is often generous with his advice and active in these forums. Finally the ethical issue will need to be addressed, and I know some will never be satisfied, but the reality of beaver culling and whether castoreum is a by-product of it or not may be important to consider, and communicate about in your approach to this business. Many people who do "natural perfumery" are devoted to naturals, but also are often attracted to the "natural" side of things for ethical reasons, and tend not to be supportive of what they view as "products of cruelty". These are not exactly members of the "hunter/trapper" community if you catch my drift... Maybe this is all too obvious so forgive me if I am going on for nothing. Anyway, if you do decide to go forward PLEASE let us know how it goes and keep us updated? It will be really interesting to know.

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