What is musk perfume made of

musk

Everyone has at least one perfume in their bathroom at home with this most famous ingredient among perfume ingredients: musk.

image by: Maria Morri cc by sa

But hardly anyone is aware of the fascinating story behind musk, its extraction or production and the discovery of its possible uses.

Originally, musk was obtained as a glandular secretion from musk deer. This deer lives in the East Asian highlands. In a gland the size of a walnut on the belly of this deer there are about 30 grams of musk secretion. In order to obtain musk, the deer had to be killed and the gland completely removed and then dried. The previously red-brown mass becomes a powdery, granular and black mass. The deer colonize areas over 1000 meters above sea level. Up to 180 animals are required to obtain one kilogram of natural musk. The worldwide population is therefore only about 400 - 800 thousand animals.

Similar substances are also found in other animals and even plants. Although this is not actually about musk, the term musk is also used for these liquids. Well-known examples are the muskrat and the civet from the animal kingdom and the juggler flower from the vegetable kingdom.

Although it has been possible to produce musk artificially for a long time, the demand for naturally obtained musk is not diminishing. Chinese medicine alone consumes a ton per year, and the French perfume industry, until recently, also asked for several kilograms per year. In the meantime, the import of the fragrance into Europe has been strictly forbidden and the hunt for the musk ox in its home country, Mongolia, has been declared illegal. The black market prices for natural musk have risen enormously since then. Up to 38,000 euros per kilogram are paid on the black market. This makes musk a lot more expensive than gold.

But why is musk so popular?

Musk has been used as a remedy for numerous ailments since ancient times. Even then, it was also used as a raw material for the preparation of perfumes. It was the crusaders who introduced musk into Europe. During this time, musk was also known as an aphrodisiac. The aphrodisiac effect is attributed to the similarity to natural pheromones. Even today, musk has the unmatched ability to liven up any perfume composition and to enhance the scent of the other ingredients. A little musk adds a certain amount of sensuality to the perfume. Synthetically produced musk can not only be found in many perfumes, but also in numerous cleaning agents and care products that are used every day in households. The synthetically produced musk is much cheaper than the natural raw material. From a scientific point of view, there is no structural relationship with natural musk.