Ingredient Knowledge · AMBERGRIS

By Stephanie Helmer

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Ambergris is a rare perfume ingredient.

It is already 6 years ago that a huge piece washed up on Texel (83 kg of a dead sperm whale.) The animal undoubtedly suffered from a blockage.

Many people think that ambergris bile is what spits out the sperm whale. However, this does not appear to be true. Amber originates in the intestines of the sperm whale, around undigested bits of cuttlefish that he eats. This does not happen with all sperm whales. Most sperm whales regularly spit out the indigestible pieces of deep sea squid. It is estimated that there are between 500,000 and 2 million sperm whales worldwide, with only 1 in 100 having a deviation. A leak between the stomachs causes the pieces of squid to end up in the gut and is embedded in a mixture of amber and half-digested back shells of the octopuses. A deep sea dive ensures that it is pressed into amber, a lump just as hard as wood. After a period of time the sperm whale pours out the pressed amber and these chunks can be found on the beach. The pieces often float at sea for a long time.

There are of course different shapes, colors and stages, of ambergris. Some pieces are black and still reasonably soft, they have an unpleasant smell! The smell is described as animal, musky, earthy. Depending on how long ambergris has been in the ocean, the smell can vary considerably. Here, too, it differs per person how the smell is received. The older pieces are more dry, harder and are gray / brown, in all kinds of gradations.

One of the properties of ambergris is to bind scents, which is often in the base of a perfume. A scent with a pinch of ambergris in it stays much longer than a scent without amber. Ambergris is therefore still used in the perfume industry and is worth a lot of money. For example, the block that comes from the sperm whale of Texel is estimated at a few tons.

Ambergris should not be confused with Amber (amber).

As a vegetable alternative, the fragrance Labdanum can be used, the resin of the cistus rose also corresponds to the fragrance aspect. Just like Ambrette seed and angelica (Angelica) are used as an alternative to the Ambergris.

Are you going to look for ambergris during your beach holiday?

Ambra Profumi ambergris


Created in 2009 by perfumer Arturetto, in which amber gray is combined with Orange, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang and White musk.

Ambra Terenzi


Oriental Vanilla fragrance for both men and women. Where ambergris is combined with Musk, Jasmine, Agarwood and Madagascar Vanilla.

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