Among the hundreds of additives used in cigarettes, the most unusual one may be the ambergris tincture. It is often called whale vomit, or whale feces more accurately, because ambergris actually comes from the other end of the animal.
What is ambergris?
Ambergris is a rare and very precious substance that comes from approximately 1% of the sperm whale population in the world. There are approximately 350,000 of these giant mammals on the earth, but only 3,500 of them produce ambergris regardless of whether they are given or received.
Sperm whales are huge eating machines that consume up to one ton of food a day to provide energy for their weight. A bull can reach 50 tons and a cow can consume 20 tons. They like squid, and they can eat hundreds of them in one hour of diving. Repeated several times a day, the amount of squid consumed can reach thousands.
Sperm whales have four stomachs and can digest everything except squid’s hard beak and pen. These bones pile up and spit out every few days, and life will continue. This is why ambergris is often called whale vomit, but according to Robert Clark, the ambergris expert, the actual situation is different.
Sometimes the hard, indigestible parts of the squid will reach the fourth stomach and then there, where they will scratch and irritate the lining of the intestines. When this happens, the whale’s body secretes a fatty waxy substance that wraps and wraps them. It was mixed with feces as it progressed, and then was fortunately expelled by the whale.
Unfortunately, the lump continued to grow and eventually ruptured the intestines, killing the whale. The whale becomes fish food, and the ambergris is released. Because of its buoyancy, it will float to the surface, where it can float and spend most of the time underwater.
Why ambergris appears on the beach and looks like tar
Fresh ambergris smells unpleasant, black or very dark in color, viscous, similar to tar. However, with years of exposure to these elements, it will slowly harden and become a smooth waxy tan. Over time, it will become white and lighter because most of the water has disappeared, similar to pumice or chalk.
The aged ambergris exudes a sweet and pleasant smell. The aroma is often described as sweet, woody, earthy and marine.
Then it may be washed up on the beach very close or far from where it originated. It’s impossible to know how long it stayed in the ocean, or other things about its long journey, but if you are lucky enough to find a piece while walking on the beach, it’s like winning the lottery.
The value of ambergris
Ambergris has long been highly regarded in perfume manufacturing because of its unique ability to “fix” the fragrance and prevent the fragrance from fading too quickly.
Because it is a rare substance that must be found and not manufactured, its price is very high. How much depends on how long it floats in the ocean before it is discovered. Buying the best quality at $10,000 per pound is not an unreasonable number.
Here are some examples of ambergris discoveries and their achievements over the years:
- In 2012, when an 8-year-old boy was walking with his father and dog on a beach in Dorset, England, he stumbled upon a piece of ambergris that was more than a pound. It is considered to be quite old, with an estimated value of 60,000 to 65,000 US dollars.
- September 2015: A 2.4-pound piece of ambergris was found on the beach on Anglesey Island off the northwest coast of Wales. Later that month, it was sold to a French bidder at auction for 11,000 pounds ($15,679).
- November 2015: A 28-pound ambergris was discovered off the coast of Oman. In this situation, the two men encountered a dead sperm whale that was washed ashore. When they took the animal’s offal, they found a huge ambergris. (Maybe this is the cause of the whale’s unfortunate death?) Its estimated value is around $17,000, which is undoubtedly because it is trapped in the whale and has barely aged.
Where to find ambergris
Ambergris can be found on almost any ocean-facing beach in the world, partly because it often travels long distances for a long period of time, and sperm whales travel through all waters except the coldest waters.
If you are interested in finding ambergris, please bring your patience and Fido! Due to the smell, most specimens have been found by dogs.