by Identity Network
What is Amber Oil?
There are many types of amber oils on the market, most of which contain synthetic fragrance oils or synthetic carrier oils. The aroma of these amber perfume oils vary widely. Amber has become a generic term, and so one can find all types of oils, being sold as amber oil, that have no relation to the aroma of amber.
The first and original amber oil was from ambergris. Ambergris is the waxy substance that was found floating on the ocean or washed up on the shore in ancient times. It can be refined into a oil with a strong, but pleasant aroma. In ancient times, no one knew the source of this mysterious substance, and yet it was highly valued. Ambergris became a mythic substance. Later, it was determined that ambergris (meaning gray amber) came from the sperm whale. Today, it is thought that the sperm whale regurgitates the ambergris after eating squid (or cuttlefish, one of its favorite foods). This occurs because the squid bones irritates the stomach lining of the whale; the ambergris being produced as a counter-irritant.
Ambergris, when refined into an oil (also called ambergris) was highly sought after by perfumers due to the unique aroma and the very strong fixative value of the ambergris oil. Today ambergris is very rare and extremely expensive. It is also rarely traded due to the fact that the ambergris comes from the sperm whale which is an endangered species. Although they are difficult to make, there are synthetic varieties of ambergris available.
For the record, there is no such thing as amber essential oil. Essential oils are pure plant oils which are distilled or otherwise extracted from a single plant species. Fragrant amber itself is a combination of several different botanical sources (or animal sources in the case of ambergris). There is no one plant from which amber comes from, and, although you will hear it said that fragrant amber comes from a tree growing in the Himalayas, it is simply not true.
We are often asked about amber oil that comes from the Baltic amber (fossilized amber used for jewelry). This type of amber oil is made through a process called destructive distillation of fossilized amber. It yields an oil that contains succinic acid (which can be used in health products), but it does not have a pleasant aroma. Due to its unpleasant aroma, it is not used in aromatherapy or perfumery.