Essential Oils from Animals

Essential Oils from Animals


A lot of people are not aware that natural oils (e.g. essential oils, absolutes, etc) can come from botanical as well as animals.

I read an article about perfumery long time ago and came across with civet oil as one of perfume ingredients. That made me confuse. As far as I know, civets are cat-like animals that eat coffee cherries. Their feces are collected and cleaned. The coffee beans then are roasted to become one of the most expensive coffee in the world. It's gross, isn't it? So, what is civet oil? Civet oil comes from civet. It is extracted from civets' odorous sacs.

Another animal oil that is used for perfumery is the musk, mostly derived from the Musk deer largely found in Asia; only a small amount can be extracted yet lots of musk deer have to be killed. To produce 1 kilogram of musk oil from the musk deer from Asia about 160 deer have to be slaughtered. As such the market price of the product sometimes goes beyond $50,000 per kilogram or about $2,000 an ounce! As a result, synthetic musk has replaced the original one from the Asia musk deer.

Other animal oils used in perfume:

  • Castoreum is another, usually extracted from the North American beaver's odorous sac.
  • Beeswax absolute, distilled from the honeybee's honeycomb
  • Ambergris expelled and secreted by Sperm Whales are other types of animal essential oils.

Due to the limited and complicated production of these oils from animals, the oils are usually over-priced.

So, next time you buy a perfume, check your perfume ingredients first.