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Costus Oil

Item#: 503449  CAS: 8023-88-9   FEMA: 2336

Odor Strength: Medium
Odor Description: Hairy, green, unripe melon, woody
Taste Description: Fatty, metallic, brown

Costus Oil is distilled from the roots of the striking Saussurea lappa plant.  This rare and protected plant boasts shiny green leaves and spear-like red blooms.  The extract has a unique aroma, warm animalic earthy, which is formulated commonly in fine fragrance in Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Essence de Parfum and House of Matriarch Black Sheep.

Costus is native to the Himalayan highlands, but now commercially grown in the Himalayan foothills of northern India.  The hearty plant thrives at high altitudes, and can tolerate a variety of soil conditions.  Costus is usually harvested 2-3 years after planting to allow for maturation.  The roots are harvested in the fall, after the summer flowering season.  Then, roots are dried and crushed to prepare for steam distillation. The costus is controlled under CITES, an international agreement that regulates the trade protected species while assuring its survival. As such, Costus requires special permits and extensive documentation for exports.

Steam distillation is used to produce Vigon’s Costus Oil.  As the steam comes in contact with the crushed root material, it allows the aroma compounds it contains to evaporate.  Then, this vapor is condensed through a cooling chamber.  As the steam condenses to water, the oil decants and floats to the top and can be skimmed off. Costus oil contains compounds such as costul, sesquiterpenoid lactones, and alpha ionone.

Costus oil is often described as the aroma of “unwashed dog” or “wet dog” which are often thought to be very unpleasant.  However, when formulated by expert perfumers, the quirky extract’s warm and musky scent serves as a fixative and brings body to a perfume.  It is often in accords with patchouli, oakmoss, cinnamon, and flouve oil.

Flavorists rarely rely on Costus, as its animalic character does not lend well to food flavors. Nevertheless, the extract can provide balance to flavor and give it a more natural body.  Costus is found in minute amounts in soft drink flavors.

Costus is occasionally used in aromatherapy for its medicinal properties.  It can be helpful in treating digestive issues and ailments.

Vigon’s Costus Oil

If you are interested in seeing a sample or placing an order, please email Nicholas Bourne at or call 570-422-6026.

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