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    I got some Hyraceum. Strange aromatic raw material of the antique perfumery, the existence of which I even doubted.
    It is supposed to be fossilized excrements of a rabbit size rat, Hyrax, “small brother of the elephants”, as tribesmen in South Africa call it.
    The raw material is a dark brown charcoal like stone, difficult to brittle, with a smell reminiscent of Ambergris and Castoreum.
    The smell did not seem that much fascinating as a perfume ingredient to me, but going through documentation I learned that it is used as a traditional medicine against epilepsy and this renders it excitingly interesting.
    I tried today to make a tincture and the hardest part is to pulverize it before putting it into alcohol.
    The process of making it into powder revealed a unique note from all most animal scents. It is strongly urinary, while ambergris and particularly Civet Musk have a faecal note.
    This urinary smell seems to take power with the tincturing so much that the initial smell of the raw material seems to disappear completely.
    According to my experience with tincturing animal scents and observing the way Hyraceum rected with alcohol I presume that probably a few weeks will be necessary in order to have a full result of the tincture.

    Scritto Da – salaam Attar il 04 Dicembre 2006alle ore 23:09:49


    I also purchased a small amount….. I havn’t tinctured it yet but I shall soon….The supplier suggests that it rounds off perfumes but I have not had any experience with this material at all….. I like the smell of the solid untinctured mass tho…. to look at it reminds me very much of a hard piece of peat I used to cut on the moors in yorkshire to burn on the fire…..but of course the composition is completely different. It does has a urine type smell but I have smelt some urine smells from cats for example….. that really repel me…. this does not….it also smells smoky and earthy… it will be interesting how it tinctures out. It is supposed to give up to alcohol very well…..
    The Hyrax apparently urinated and deficated in the same spot. … thus the build up of this hardened mass….


    The Hyraceum from this lot, although it seems to be the real thing, definitely natural and animal, might not be of top quality.
    I do not have experience with this material to be able to understand this.
    As a perfume ingredient it does not seem to me strikingly interesting, a much more fascinating smell of musky urine is obtained from goat hair tincture.
    In any case I am on the track of other sources and particularly of the absolute of Hyraceum which might be much better, as Castoreum absolute is much better than Castoreum tincture. The most exciting aspect of this material for me is for aromatherapy as an anti-epyleptic remedy.

    Scritto Da – salaam Attar on 07 Dicembre 2006 00:11:33


    I am not sure how would one go about finding top quality fecal and urinary hyraceum (chuckle) I do not know about absolute of this but am always fascinated… I have smelt civet paste but not absolute.

    with the goat hair tincture I seem to smell alot of the lanolin that comes with sheep and goat hair…. but maybe this was the sample from somewhere else and not the backleg.

    Hyraceum and the remedy for epilepsy what form of traditional medicine did it take? topical or internal application? Have you managed to ascertain yet?

    It will be good to see how your hyraceum tincure reacts in a few weeks…


    Yes the right tincture is from the back legs of the rut male goat. I do not know how they used the Hyraceum, but probably as Ambergris and Muskdeer was used in antiquity for the same effect, as incense in fumigation.
    This does not mean that it is the only way it might be used.

    AbdesSalaam Attar
    Compositore Profumiere


    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.
    The same do Cape hyraxes, they produce large, communal piles of dung and urine that eventually congeal into a sticky mass which is Hyraceum. They 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.

    It is said that perfumery Hyraceum is fossilized, and it is in fact extremely dry and hard like a stone, but I could not ascertain how old is the product, 10 000 years as some say, or are just a few years in the dry climate of south Africa sufficient to dry it out so thoroughly?

    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 disgusting as one may think, but it could be described as “interesting”, even to unprepared people who not in the least perfumers.
    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 and excrements.

    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

    Scritto Da – salaam Attar on 24 Dicembre 2006 15:40:51


    Ciao Salaam

    This made very interesting reading.

    Have you tried the hyraceum in any perfume? If so does it give the tri-dimension quality you mention in another thread.

    Also in the same thread you talk of tincturing a whole mutton ……did you use the whole carcass? Or just part or just wool? How has that developed….in odour?

    In tincturing the hyraceum you have powdered. Did you need to filter after or did all break down into the alcohol?



    Tincturing Hyraceum in a much harder work than tincturing ambergris or civet because the raw material is very hard and has to be reduced to powder.
    I used a hammer but not by hitting the material, rather by using pressure over it, otherwise your raw material jumps all over the room.
    I have not used it yet and have no idea how people will react to it. I shall post here when I have news.

    AbdesSalaam Attar
    Compositore Profumiere


    I may try tincturing without smashing it and see if the alcohol will dissolve the piece I have – but until I receive more I am hanging on to what I have left for clients. I have some at a lower % at around 92% instead of my usual 96% but I am a bit shy of using this for the hyraceum as it may harbour bacteria because of the higher water content so I am inclined to wait a little longer till I get supplies. My supplier has changed hands and altho want to help they are nervous so I am back to the Customs and excise which I telephoned and confirmation hasn’t changed on the status but I am awaiting hard copy from them so I can send to the suppliers. The times I have gone through this is so frustrating….all in the name of organic beet undenatured alcohol.



    Cio Janita,
    I am getting some absolute Hyraceum this month if you are interested.

    AbdesSalaam Attar
    Compositore Profumiere


    Hyraceum is more Castoreum like with a definite urinary note present also in goat hair hind legs tincture. It is not civet like at all. It might be a substitute to Civet from an ethical point of view or as a “fixative” but not from an olfactory stand. Hyraceum is a very exciting material to smell, I think it might be right to add a touch of vulgarity to some fragrances or in fruity blends with Osmanthus. The urinary note is very strange because it is quite human rather than animal, like baby’s urine. Apart from Goat hair tincture, whose urinary note is very “goaty”, only black current absolute possesses such a note, but that one is more “gatty” or “ratty”

    AbdesSalaam Attar
    Compositore Profumiere


    As a fixative where is the position in the perfume? My intuition say base note? Or even middle to base?



    If your demand is about Hyraceum, yes it is a base note.
    About fixatives it is just a myth invented by perfumers in order to confuse people. No ingredient has the power to give lenght to a composition but some ingredients have the property to potentialize and fuse together other essences.

    AbdesSalaam Attar
    Compositore Profumiere


    So, abdessalaam :-) when I see you writing about oils being a fixative …. you are being a perfumer to confuse people (naughty boy) he he……..

    Sorry didn’t mean to sound like a demand just firing a question being direct not really a demand…..

    Ok another one…… so, if this hyraceum is used in a perfume for mass market it wouldn’t be allowed because of the nature of its content…. or has it sneaked in somewhere?

    Also, on the last paragraph you talk about fusing qualities of some…. would you mean substances like ambergris and orris?
    with great enjoyment


    Ciao Janita, I happen to mention fixatives mentioning this to be an attributed quality of some essences but I never wrote about them in my texts on perfumery or ever teach about them in my courses. To my perfumery students I read the words of Guy Robert:
    “I hate and find stupid that theory of “fixateurs”.
    We all know these many little songs we are hearing anywhere and forgetting almost immediately, but, from time to time, one of these songs sticks to our ear and we go on whistling it the whole day … I can assure you the author of these successful songs do not use any “fixatives ingredients” to get that result …”
    it is a very interesting lecture at: //
    Guy Robert is the composer of Amouage and Madame Rochas among many famous others.
    As a blender, rose wood is the one I use most, as a potentiator Ambergris is remarkable.
    I do not know in which perfume Hyraceum is used, we should ask Guy Robert.
    All I know is that no good perfume can be without naturals, although I cannot smell them covered as they are by synthetics, and the use natural has drastically decreased in the mass products of the last years.

    AbdesSalaam Attar
    Compositore Profumiere

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