Ken only realised its potential value after an online search revealed the substance was ambergris, an ingredient used in the manufacture of perfume. But what is ambergris? Here are 10 things you need to know about the whale poo known as "floating gold". Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the intestines of sperm whales.
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Ambergris — How Rare Whale Vomit Ended Up In Your Perfume
Ambergris - Wikipedia
A pile of intestinal slurry isn't something you want to encounter on your morning stroll, but a man in the UK is about to become a whole lot richer because of it. While walking his dog in Anglesey, a small island off the coast of Wales, the lucky beachgoer happened upon a piece of prized ambergris. The ambergris coats the irritant, much like an oyster coats a grain of sand to form a smooth pearl. Eventually, the waxy ball needs to come out, so the whale will expel it from one end or the other. And if you're wondering why a fragrance historian is so clued up about whale vomit, you've hit on the crux of this story.
Whale Vomit (Ambergris)
However, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent as it ages, commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency. Ambergris has been very highly valued by perfumers as a fixative that allows the scent to last much longer, although it has been mostly replaced by synthetic ambroxan. The word ambergris comes from the Old French "ambre gris" or "grey amber ". Ambergris is formed from a secretion of the bile duct in the intestines of the sperm whale, and can be found floating on the sea or washed up on the coast.
Vera Thoss does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence. When walking along the beach, some objects might seem unusual because they are neither pebble nor shell nor seaweed. They can be covered with a soft white layer that looks a bit like cotton wool.