"How a Long-Lost Perfume Got a Second Life After 150 Years Underwater" Discussion Thread

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Two corrections:

“It’s something they spit out like cats do with their fur balls, so it floats in the ocean until it washes out on the beach." Ambergris is not whale vomit, but is almost always mistakenly IDed as such. It is fecal in origin.

“In the old days people would gather it and use it, but in 2020 no one does it” There is still a thriving business in ambergris, which is still a critical ingredient in some perfumes.

But don’t take my word for it. Please refer to Floating Gold: a Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris by Christopher Kemp

Thanks to the perfumers & divers. As a retired chemist, l worked with essential oils creating copies of existing scents & new parfumes.

Hey, thanks. Interesting.

I always wondered about that “regurgitated ambergris” story with sperm whales…never belived it, but the undigested waxes of ambergris shows as you rightly claim. INdigestible insoluble waxes- but it is a great “Keeper” of more volatile odorants that dissolve in tiny but correct amounts of ambergris. I also worked on tiny amounts of insect pheromones, using extracts of a number of (for me)lady houseflies, using a brand new, newly invented Gas Chromatograph! There were no computers, so it was a challenge! We had to catch what came out of the end of the glass column of our new gas chromatograph, then identify it. Huge challenge. (Look it up!) Now, 50 years later, this same pheromone chemical is still sold with a pesticide to control houseflies. And recently somebody found that queen honeybees also use the same compound to attract drones for mating. Science News is everywhere! Like this article! Great fun. Thanks.