For a long time now, ambergris which is a waxy substance secreted from within sperm whales to protect their digestive systems against sharp objects has been prized by perfume-makers. The reason they like using ambergris in perfume is because that is what stops the smell from dissipating quickly. When the whales vomit, the ambergris from inside the whale reacts with the salt-water and solidifies into chunks that wash up a shore and get sold at nearly $10,000 a kilo.
Scientists have been searching for an alternative since ambergris itself is expensive and excessive demand of it can lead to whale hunting. Well it seems that they up come with one viable alternative that would not involve any animal vomit whatsoever. Joerg Bohlmann, a professor at the University of British Columbia said, “cis-abienol, a component of sage and fir trees can serve the same purpose of ambergris in perfumes and colognes but isolating it from the sage of fir plant has been difficult.
He also said that studies showed that a gene from the balsam fir is much more efficient at producing such natural compounds which could make production of this bio-product cheaper and more sustainable in the long run. According to him, if yeast is introduced into the mix, the gene can be grown on a large scale to stop the demand of the costly ambergris. Bohlman asks quite confidently, “If you ask people what they prefer, a component on their skin from whale vomit of resin from a fragrantly-smelling tree, they may not say the first choice.” Something tells me he’s right. What do you think?