Ambergris, a solid waxy substance originating in the intestine of the sperm whale (Physeter catodon). In Eastern cultures ambergris is used for medicines and potions and as a spice; in the West it was used to stabilize the scent of fine perfumes.
Ambergris floats and washes ashore most frequently on the coasts of China, Japan, Africa, and the Americas and on tropical islands such as the Bahamas. Because it was picked up as drift along the shores of the North Sea, ambergris was likened to the amber of the same region, and its name is derived from the French words for “gray amber.”
Fresh ambergris is black and soft and has a disagreeable odour. When exposed to sun, air, and seawater, however, it hardens and fades to a light gray or yellow, developing a subtle and pleasant fragrance in the process.
Chemically, ambergris contains alkaloids, acids, and a specific compound called ambreine, which is similar to cholesterol. Ambergris was commonly ground into a powder and dissolved in dilute alcohol. Rarely used today due to trade restrictions, its unique musky character added a long-lasting bouquet to the scent of essential flower oils, but, more important, ambergris was a fixative that prevented fragrance from evaporating. Some chemical components of ambergris are now produced synthetically.
Ambergris is found in lumps of various shapes and sizes, weighing from 15 g (~½ oz) to 50 kg (110 pounds) or more. When initially expelled by or removed from the whale, the fatty precursor of ambergris is pale white in color (sometimes streaked with black), soft, with a strong fecal smell. Following months to years of photo degradation and oxidation in the ocean, this precursor gradually hardens, developing a dark grey or black color, a crusty and waxy texture, and a peculiar odor that is at once sweet, earthy, marine, and animalic.
Its smell has been generally described as a vastly richer and smoother version of isopropanol without its stinging harshness. In this developed condition, ambergris has aspecific gravity ranging from 0.780 to 0.926. It melts at about 62 °C to a fatty, yellow resinous liquid; and at 100 °C (212 °F) it is volatilized into a white vapor. It is soluble in ether, and in volatile and fixed oils.
It has been developed after extensive research and analysis of the natural product which is no longer available. Ambergris is relatively nonreactive to acid. White crystals of a substance called ambrein can be separated from ambergris by heating raw ambergris in alcohol, then allowing the resulting solution to cool. Breakdown of the relatively scentless ambrein through oxidation results in the formation of ambrox and ambrinol, which are the main odour components of ambergris.
The product manufactured by BMV Fragrances Pvt. Ltd. Is known as Ambergris Maui. It is a very close reproduction of the Natural Ambergris and has been developed to offer perfumers a ready to use material with NO restrictions.
A 10% dilution in DPG can be used at 0.1% level in all kinds of Fancy Accords for exceptional diffusion. For Oriental Accords especially for the middle east upto 1% can be used to boost the Agarwood effect.
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