What Perfume Has Whale Poop in It?

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One perfume that contains whale excrement is “Fleurs de Bulgarie” by Creed.

1However the whale excrement used in perfumes is not actually poop but rather a substance called ambergris that develops in the intestines of sperm whales2346. Ambergris is a waxy substance that has a musky scent and is used in high-end fragrances to make the scent last longer24. While ambergris has been described as having a strong fecal smell when first removed from the whale it becomes more pleasant once it dries out2.

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How is ambergris harvested from sperm whales and what is the process of turning it into a fragrance ingredient?

Ambergris is a rare and valuable perfume ingredient that is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. It is a solid waxy flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish color.

Ambergris is not harvested from whales but rather it is expelled naturally and can be found floating on the ocean or washed up on shorelines. Once collected ambergris must dry for 2-3 years before it can begin macerating in 96% alcohol to produce a dye.

The process of turning ambergris into a fragrance ingredient involves macerating it in alcohol to extract its scent. The scent of ambergris is described as sweet and earthy and it is used in perfumery as a fixative to make a perfume’s scent last longer.

Are there any ethical or environmental concerns associated with the use of ambergris in perfumes given its origin from sperm whales?

Ambergris is a rare and highly valued ingredient in perfumery and it is derived from the intestinal secretions of sperm whales. Although ambergris is a waste product excreted by the sperm whale naturally and not harvested by killing whales very few countries banned ambergris for trading as a part of the general ban on the hunting of the species.

Since ambergris has been naturally expelled by sperm whales like other waste products such as feces and urine it is therefore not covered by the animal protection provisions and its trading is legal in most countries such as the United Kingdom Maldives Switzerland France and New Zealand. However sperm whales are endangered species whose populations started to decline as far back as the 19th century due to the high demand for their highly emollient oil and today their stocks still have not recovered.

The use of ambergris in perfumes raises ethical concerns due to the origin of the ingredient from sperm whales. Some raw plant materials have been so overexploited by perfume makers and worshipped by perfume lovers that they are now threatened with extinction and use of animal-derived materials raises serious ethical concerns.

Although ambergris is typically considered cruelty-free as it is a type of whale waste and can be found on beaches and oceans after being expelled by whales its use in the US is still illegal because the importation of marine mammal products in the USA has been banned since 1972 according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) . Today even perfumers who may use ambergris hesitate to promote its inclusion because of concerns that it may suggest exploitation of whales.

Besides “Fleurs de Bulgarie” by Creed can you provide examples of other perfumes or fragrance products that use ambergris as an ingredient and how common is its use in the perfume industry today?

Ambergris is a rare and valuable raw material in perfumery used as a fixative to increase the longevity of fragrances. Its presence in perfumes can be described as marine animalic and sweet.

Here are some examples of perfumes and fragrance products that use ambergris as an ingredient:

  • Creed – Aventus
  • Tom Ford – Amber Absolute
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian – Amyris Homme
  • Parfums Dusita Issara
  • Aftelier Fragrances Fragrant Companion Kit containing Ambergris
  • DSH Perfumes
  • Anya’s Garden Fairchild

Ambergris is an expensive ingredient and nowadays a part of it has been replaced by synthetic products in the perfume industry. However its perceived ability to elevate other olfactory notes is highly prized by master perfumers and its one-of-a-kind musky character adds enduring scent to essential floral oils.

According to perfumer Mandy Aftel ambergris adds tenacity radiance sillage lift marine and woody notes and a very special beauty to perfumes. While the use of ambergris in perfumery has decreased due to ethical and environmental concerns it is still used in some high-end fragrances.