What Is Ambergris?

Posted: July 29, 2016

Ambergris

Image source: CNN.com

Ambergris is a waxy substance made in the intestines of sperm whales. The whales produce the substance to help protect their stomach lining from sharp objects. When the substance isn’t needed anymore, the whales eject it. The rock-like wax can be found floating in the ocean or washed up on beaches.

The substance starts soft inside of the whale’s intestines, but begins to harden after it is ejected. If you are walking along the beach you may think the blob is just a rock, but it has much more value than you realized. The substance is sometimes referred to as “floating gold” since it is only produced by a small percentage of sperm whales. It can float in the ocean for decades before washing up on shore.

Blobs of ambergris have been sold for thousands of dollars. According to National Geographic, ambergris weighing around a pound can be worth up to $63,000! One couple from the UK found a sizable ambergris “rock” worth $70,000.

What is Ambergris Used For?

Essentially, the waxy substance is whale vomit. The idea of where ambergris comes from may sound gross, but it is a popular ingredient in some high-end perfumes. The substance is added to perfumes to help the scent last longer on the skin. Each blob of ambergris has its own unique scent ranging from musky to sweet which impacts the scent of the perfume.

Ambergris is illegal to use in perfumes produced in the U.S. because the sperm whale is endangered, but in foreign markets, like France, the wax is still widely used.

If you are visiting the beach this summer, look out for the waxy blobs of ambergris. Depending on the size of it, the blob could be worth thousands of dollars!

Interested in learning about other wax types? Check out our previous blogs.

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