Making perfume from whale barf

You may recall a prior blog in which I talked about the wonders of whale poo and a substance called ambergris that can be either defecated or regurgitated by whales and is used to make expensive perfumes. Well, my favorite comic strip, Piled Higher and Deeper (i.e. PhD Comics), posted a 2-minute thesis presented by Baillie Redfern from the University of British Columbia on how whale barf is used in perfumes and how her research is attempting to re-create the wonders of ambergris in the lab.

These 2-minute thesis presentations are great. Keep it up PhD Comics!

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Hmmmmmm. It's the time ambergris spends in the water (years) that creates the best perfume fixatives - I'm wondering how growing ambergris in baker's yeast is going to mimic this time. As Baillie says the active ingredient / synthetic compounds / clones have been known for years if not centuries and they aren't as expensive as she suggests - just (much) less effective. If you really want to understand this better get a hold of 'Floating Gold : a natural (& unnatural) history of Ambergris'

By Dale Buggins (not verified) on 05 Oct 2012 #permalink

Kind of cute- but it would be even cuter if she could pronounce ambergris.

By nancy brownlee (not verified) on 08 Oct 2012 #permalink

I'd love to see musk and civet be produced in this way. We could probably have the original formula classic perfumes make a come back without having to torture/slaughter animals.