Civet paste or civet musk is a glandular secretion obtained from the African civet cat (Civettictis civetta). It's a highly valued component in traditional perfumery, revered for its unique and complex scent profile and powerful fixative properties. The aroma is often described as intensely musky, animalic, and even fecal when undiluted, but when diluted and combined with other fragrances, it lends a deep warmth and sensuality.
However, it's important to note that the collection of civet paste involves the confinement and often inhumane treatment of civet cats. As a result, its ethical procurement has become a significant concern, and many modern perfumers have shifted towards using synthetic alternatives that mimic its scent. If you do decide to work with natural civet, ensure it's been ethically sourced.
Making Civet Paste Tincture:
Civet paste: Ensure it's ethically sourced. The quality of the paste can vary, so opt for the highest quality you can find.
Perfumers alcohol: Perfumers alcohol is recommended due to its efficient extraction capabilities.
Weigh out a small quantity of civet paste. Given its potency, you typically need much less compared to other raw materials. A common starting point might be 1 gram of civet paste to 99 grams (or ml) of alcohol (1% concentration).
Place the civet paste in a clean glass jar.
Pour the perfumers alcohol over the paste, ensuring it's dissolved.
Seal the jar tightly.
Allow the mixture to macerate for at least 4-6 weeks. Because civet is so potent, this duration helps to extract the full complexity of the aroma.
Periodically shake the jar to ensure that the civet paste is continually interacting with the alcohol.
Using Civet Paste Tincture in Perfumery:
Powerful Fixative: Civet has been traditionally used as a fixative, lending longevity and depth to perfumes.
Blending: The animalic, musky character of civet pairs well with florals, oriental notes, woods, and resins. Always use it sparingly, as it can easily overpower other notes.
Dilution: Given its potency, civet tincture is typically used in very minute quantities. It's a note that can easily dominate a perfume, so careful dilution is necessary.
Finally, given the ethical concerns surrounding the use of natural civet, always ensure that any products you create or sell are transparent about their ingredients. This allows consumers to make informed choices based on their personal values.