Hyraceum AKA African Stone is a traditional medicine and perfume ingredient.
Explaining exactly what Hyraceum is is always fun.
To be succinct, Hyraceum is the mineralized urine and feces of the Rock Hyrax which is 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 middens can be as old as 50.000 years.
The deposits are spread across the mountain-sides 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.
These dark and intensely fragrant rock pieces have 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 tincture of Hyraceum for perfume work, the material is ground fine in a sturdy mortar and infused at a ratio of 1:10 in ethanol @ 95%. (1 gram to 10 grams alcohol, 10 grams Hyraceum to 100 grams alcohol, 100 grams to 1 kilogram alcohol, etc.) I have found that it needs a full year to yield itself completely to the alcohol.
An absolute or 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.
Powdered or tinctured Hyraceum may have value in Incense -making. I will have to try it out…