Minerals, Metals, and Other Materials

Natural Substances

What is ambergris?

Ambergris, a highly odorous, waxy substance found floating in tropical seas, is a secretion from the sperm whale (Physeter catodon). The whale secretes ambergris to protect its stomach from the sharp bone of the cuttlefish, a squid-like sea mollusk, which it ingests. Ambergris is used in perfumery as a fixative to extend the life of a perfume and as a flavoring for food and beverages. Today ambergris is synthesized and used by the perfume trade, which has voluntarily refused to purchase natural ambergris to protect sperm whales from exploitation.


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