Hyraceum Powder-AKA African Stone is traditional medicine, perfume and incense ingredient.
It has a rich, deep Musk fragrance reminiscent of Deer Musk, Castoreum, leather and tobacco.
I powdered this material myself as a convenience for my customers. Hyraceum is very a hard stone and a difficult material to powder at home due to its density and hardness. Mineralized after thousands of years, it is more likely to grind down one’s coffee grinder before it is powdered.
What is Hyraceum?
Explaining exactly what Hyraceum is is always fun.
To be succinct, Hyraceum is the mineralized urine and feces of the Rock Hyrax, the only other animal related to the elephant. (Even though it looks more like a Groundhog and doesn’t have a long nose.)
Rock Hyrax communities deposit their excrement in the same place for thousands of years. These smelly aggregates are called middens and also serve the function of territorial markers. These midden can be as old as 50000 years!!
The deposits are spread across the mountainsides of Africa, and the material is collected without impact on the animal population. Considering the small amount used in perfumery, this material is both ethically collected and sustainably sourced.
Rock Hyrax are most often found basking on warm rocks in sunshiny places from South Africa all the way to Israel and Lebanon. They are a favourite food of Vultures, Leopards and other predatory carnivores and, for this reason, seldom stray far from the cracks and crevices of their mountain-side domiciles. (See photo above).
In traditional African medicine, an extract of the stone has been used as a remedy for epilepsy.
Hyraceum is better known for its use as a musk note and fixative in perfumery.
What does Hyraceum smell like?
This dark fragrant powder has a wonderfully warm musk-like animalic scent. Upon inhalation, one will discover notes of Castoreum, Deer Musk, leather, Tobacco and some of the subtle, floral notes of aged Civet tincture. I find the aroma oddly comforting and grounding.
To prepare a standard 10% tincture of Hyraceum for perfume work, the material is infused at a ratio of 1:9 in ethanol @ 95%. (1 gram to 9 grams alcohol, 10 grams Hyraceum to 90 grams alcohol, 100 grams to 900 grams of alcohol, etc.) I have found that it needs a full year to yield itself completely to the alcohol.
An absolute/resinoid/Resin absolute of Hyraceum can be prepared from a tincture (at any ratio) if the alcohol is evaporated after maceration and filtration. It should dissolve readily in alcohol. Hyraceum does not yield itself directly to infusions in fixed/carrier oils. An intermediate solvent might facilitate this, but I have not found one yet.
Tinctured Hyraceum can be used in incense blends.