Ambergris is a rare natural aromatic used in perfume, incense and medicine for thousands of years. Most traditions consider Ambergris an Aphrodisiac.
At the moment I have the following two types in the shop
-Gold/Brown Ambergris from Ireland
– Dark brown Sticky soft and sweet-smelling Ambergris from the South Pacific.
-White Ambergris from Britain.
The Gold opens with a rich, warm animalic fragrance with dry Oak and Tobacco tones. Though it has an obvious “Barnyard” element, this Ambergris created a tincture that is absolutely gorgeous and drew out beautiful sweet notes that are hidden within it.
The Brown Ambergris borders on black and is softer/stickier than the other types. It has a surprisingly sweet marine note and none of the fecal notes one usually associates with younger Ambergris.
The white Ambergris piece is well-aged and delivers dry marine and oceanic notes with a soft animalic musk.
If you plan to process the material for perfume use, note that an alcoholic tincture brings out different notes than an oil extraction and highlights the Tobacco, amber and marine notes present in the material. It is sweeter smelling than the oil infusion.
An oil infusion creates a product with more prominent dry earth and animal musk notes. It makes my heart skip every time.
Ambergris is Sustainably Sourced & Cruelty-Free
Expelled through excretion or emesis by the Sperm whale, (depends on whom you ask), Ambergris is thought to form in the digestive tract as a response to the irritation of residual squid and cuttlefish beaks which the whale cannot digest. Nowadays one also finds man-made objects wrapped in a protective layer of Ambergris. These intrusions and inclusions are most often plastic products such as bags, pieces of fishnet and other garbage we cast to the sea.
With the aid of a compound produced in the whale’s bile duct, a waxy substance is created that coats the irritants and builds up in layers. These layers are one of the indicators of real Ambergris.
Once Ambergris exits the whale it can float on the ocean for years and lie undiscovered on a beach for decades. This is where all the shop Ambergris comes from. No whales were harmed in its collection. The material used in this oil hails from a beach in the south Pacific
A perfume fixative and aphrodisiac
Ambergris is a cross-cultural, traditional medicine used to treat respiratory diseases, strengthen and balance the organs and nervous system. Used for thousands of years in perfume and incense, it is considered a natural fixative that extends the lifespan of perfume on the skin and anchors more fleeting notes. In many cultures, it is considered an aphrodisiac increasing libido and sexual powers.
In some Arabian traditions, a drop or two of Ambergris oil is rubbed into the scalp as an aphrodisiac and sexual attractant. This is reminiscent of the more modern use of Poplar Bud Oil which blends with the scalp’s natural odour creating a unique and attractive personal fragrance. You can find a beautiful Poplar Bud Oil here-Poplar Bud Oil-Quebec
Less is more
Like other natural animal-sourced fragrance compounds, the olfactory magic and power of Ambergris lie not in the strength of its aroma.
It does not transform a perfume by adding the intensity of its aroma proportionally to a blend. Instead, it operates in a less obvious manner, as if anchored in the interstices of aroma, rounding out or pulling together a bouquet from underneath, or inside. It adds depth, lift, tenacity and extra dimension to compositions by means of a mechanism that is not well understood. To a great degree, all animalics work on the principle of less is more. Only a minute amount is needed in a perfume to exert its influence.
Ambergris is used in perfumes as an alcohol tincture or an oil infusion at a very low 1% to 5%..
Typically, a tincture of Ambergris will be left to macerate at least 6 months before it is considered ready to filter and use.
For more information about Ambergris and instructions for preparing your own Ambergris tincture, oil and Attar, please see my post here-https://apothecarysgarden.com/2019/08/22/ambergris-how-to-prepare-an-oil-attar-and-tincture/