amber tincture

My amber suitcase, all of it is Baltic amber

We shall tincture about 5 grams of fossil Amber of Baltic origin. The age of baltic amber is estimated at 150 million years.
Can a perfume last over such a lapse of time?
In some way it definitely does, whoever worked amber to poslish it and shape it as I did for some time, knows the typical smell, similar to rubbery lemony frankincense.
A very delicate smell that transforms working this matter in a pleasurable olfactory experience.
Moreover amber is called bernstein in German, “burning stone”, because it has been used as incense in Europe particularly during epidemies and for vibrational therapies.
The smell is there. Can it pass into the alcohol in order to be used as a perfume?

5.4 grams of Amber

The first step is to pulverize the amber, in this way we shall facilitate the tincturing. We can use the same technique that I use to pulverize Hyraceum stone, an other fossil material (the oldest is only 10000 years old) that can be tinctured and makes a very strong perfume.

We got 4,2 grams of amber powder

 We add about 40 grams of alcohol, this vill ba a 10% tincture

2 month later…

The tincture was already smelly after a few days, but the smell was extremely fleeting.

After 2 month the decanted tincture has taken a yellow colour, showing definitely that something has dissolved in it, in fact when you dip a glass bit into the tincture and let the alcohol evaporates, a white layer remains on it but it has a short lived smell.

However the smaller pieces are still brittle and they did not soften while staying so long into alcohol, this may indicate that a more finely powdered amber would have given a stronger colour and a stronger smell.

In 2 month the smell has not changed in nature, only in intensity and somewhat in persistence. It is camphorous limony and incensy, but it does not really smell like Frankincense, not being such a resinous odour. My Amber tincture has the true and exact smell of Baltic Amber.

I do not know if my liking it is due my memories of working this material years ago, who became fragrant every time I worked it with sand paper and drill bits in order to make necklaces, pendents and bracelets.

The smell very short lived, only five to ten minutes on the skin. I doubt that more time in infusion will give it more persistence.

For a perfumer, the tincture does not look interesting from an olfactory point of view, the smell is neither strong nor persistent enough, but in a conceptual sense, the stage in which natural perfumes are ideas still to be realized with true archetypes, this may be a very interesting ingredient, even though it would not be smelled, because natural perfumes are made of vibrations and there is more than just smell in a natural fragrance.

AbdesSalaam Attar
Composer Perfumer

Hyraceum, tincturing a 10 000 years old pheromone


Procavia Capensis

Special Scents - Hyraceum

The tincture is obtained by infusing the powdered raw material into pure organic non denaturated alcohol 96°. Hyraxes seem to be quite average little critters, resembling an over-grown guinea-pig and famous almost solely for being the closest living relative to elephants.They are indeed strange animals. A hyrax’s brain is like an elephant’s, while its stomach is like a horse’s. The skeleton, however, is akin to a rhinoceros’s. The hind feet are entirely different from these animals, more like a tapir’s. Peeking into the mouth of a hyrax, you may recognize similar upper incisors from rodents’ teeth, upper cheek teeth from rhino’s and the lower cheek teeth like a hippo’s. They even have two teeth in their upper jaw that resemble elephant tusks. The overall anatomy of a hyrax, however, is like an elephant’s or horse’s. Hyraceum was used by men long before perfumers did it.This substance has been a traditional remedy used in Africa and middle east for thousands of years. It is not strange that other animal scents such as Civet, Muskdeer Castoreum and Ambergris belong to all traditional pharmacopeias with the same indications; epilepsy, convulsions and feminine hormonal disorders.

All these animal odoriferous substances are in fact pheromones. Although all animals largely use pheromones in the reproducing process, very few of them, such as Civet, Muskdeer and Castoreum possess a specific gland that produces them in quantity to be expelled in a pure form from their body. Most animals, including humans, expel their pheromones together with sweat, urine and feces.

Hyraceum is formed from the urine of a Hyrax or Dassie. The urine is not as fluid as that of other mammals but is rather passed as a jelly like substance. Hyraxes will always use the same place, mostly caves or afranctuosities to urinate and a different place to defecate. This product is mostly very old and a Hyrax colony would build up a large mound of Hyraceum only over thousands of years.

Hyraceum is very dense and hard as stone. The jelly urine first dries up then it compacted by the animals and then it is fossilized by time.

It is no wonder that Hyraceum is considered in South Africa a remedy for kidney and bladder diseases and disfunctions. All mammals expel their pheromones through urines and the leathery smell of Hyraceum shows that it contains a lot of these.

Hyraxes choose a place nearby their homes and it is probable that this odoriferous mass has a social pheromonal function (for example regiulating the sexual maturity of the individuals), as well as marking the territory of the colony.

Perfumery Hyraceum is fossilized, and it is in fact extremely dry, heavy and hard like a stone, the product can date from the mid Holocene period and be as old as 10 000 years as researchers have ascertained (Carr et al., 2010).

The tincture is obtained by infusing the powdered raw material into pure alcohol for a few weeks. The smell is akin to Castoreum but has a distinct urinary note that can be found only in goat hair tincture among perfumery materials.

Hyraceum definitely has an affinity with human beings, as its medical use shows. Its smell as well is not at all disgusting as one may think, but it could be described as “very interesting”, even to unprepared people who are not at all perfumers. Duchaufourd commented it as “magnifique et fascinant”.

In fact we are genetically conditioned to react to this type of smells, particularly women who by their nature of mothers have to do “biologically” with children’s urine. Pheromones from different species are not that much different, even those of insects and mammals.

This is why we human can be influenced by such substances, and aromatic Hyraceum can certainly participate in the construction of the tri-dimentional perfume

Comments on Hyraceum from the blog of Denyse “Grain de Musk

profumo produces Hyraceum tincture
For perfumers Hyraceum absolute