How to know fake musk?

How can one know fake musk?

Musk is becoming harder and harder to get, it is exponentially increasing in price due to the very little supply and the very high demand. Being one of the most sought-after materials in both Chinese, Indian, and Arabic alternative medicine and one of the most exotic and rare materials in natural perfumery makes it one of the most expensive and rare materials in the world. At the same time, that makes the musk deer one of the most endangered animals that is radically decreasing in numbers and unfortunately not many people are paying attention to that.

So, I will not be generic and write another article about the musk deer and where the pod is found in the animal and the anatomy of the deer and the way it’s made and formulated in the body, the color, texture, smell, and taste of it.

I will lay down the deep secrets that many people/companies use or used in regard to musk and how to know it. This information is coming from the total accumulated knowledge and experience of 300 years of natural perfumery and I’m pretty sure you will not find it anywhere else and those who know it will not share it with you, but we will.

Before I start talking about it and throwing out all the dirty little secrets that have been kept for centuries, I must make a statement. As a house that’s been there for over 300 years, distilled, mixed and made thousands of oils and perfumes, made some of the most exotic and expensive perfumes in history, and bespoke the personal perfumes for sultans, kings, and presidents, we take all our work and oils very seriously, but nothing is taken more seriously than musk. That is for few reasons the first reason is it’s the favorite perfume of our beloved prophet Mohammed peace be upon him, and it’s one of only three perfumes mentioned in the holy Quran. It was the personal favorite perfume for most of the sultans and the kings that we bespoke personal perfumes for. It has a huge value in many religions and alternative medicine practices like Indian, Chinese, and Arabic. It was the personal perfume of the founder of our house and a life passion for him.

For all those reasons, we take musk and talking about musk very seriously, and I doubt that there is any perfumist or perfume house in the world that tried what we tried with musk, mixed as much musk as we did, or lost as much musk as we lost (due to the obsessive quality control we have). Yes, it’s a fact when you work with natural materials from a hundred years ago and you try to come up with new elixirs and perfumes that no one attempted to make before, you get some disappointments, especially with musk since musk is very critical and can easily turn against the perfumist if not handled with knowledge and respect.

So, they who cheat and fake musk and sell you something that smells very musky for $10 or even $50, if you are not sure about the numbers and the logical price break down please feel free to read our previous article “The Perfumist Expose the Power of Numbers!” anyway I’m going to make this super easy, simple and foolproof.

1- The first way is the most obvious and that is to use synthetic musk, but this is becoming more and more clear and obvious to many people and I have seen kids who can distinguish it from a mile away never mind an experienced perfumist. This is the most common and most used way of cheating/faking musk and lately, it’s being used even by the Siberian hunters, due to the rarity of the deer animal and the crazy bonanza that the musk collectors are willing to do and pay for musk.

Why they should not do it?

First of all because it’s lying and cheating, and it’s a matter of short time before a real nose or anyone familiar with musk smells it and knows, trust me it’s easily recognizable. Additionally, it’s stealing from your customers and clients and the most precious thing a perfumist or a perfume house has is the reputation, and who wants to buy from and deal with a lying thief?

How can one know it?

The way to know and recognize this is by knowing what a real musk vs. synthetic musk (all different kinds of it) smells like or simply through using a lab test.

2- The second way is to use angelica oil. For those who don’t know what angelica oil is, a simple search online will tell you all about it. Mixing angelica oil with musk is not as much cheating as it is harnessing, but sometimes the person will tell you that this is pure Tibetan deer musk and it’s a mix of very little Siberian musk with Angelica and rose, or other oils.

Why they should not do it?

Musk is unique and beautiful on its own and that is the true power and value of it and there will always be the purist and the connoisseur that is willing to pay the full price of pure raw musk, so why mess it up and mix it. Additionally, if you do it and do a good job with it, simply say this is musk mix and sell it as an attar or musk based oil but don’t sell it or promote it as a pure musk oils because again, some people will know!

How can one know it?

This can also be known directly by a tried nose or perfumist as the mix will give a clear note of old roots, and earthy rather than animalistic smell. It could also be known by a simple lab test if monoterpene hydrocarbons are found in dominant percentages that means it’s angelica.


3- The third way and it’s a very common way, usually used in India and parts of south-east Asia, and that it to mix deer urine with musk (I know yuck!). This is a very simple way as they can cover and disguise the urine note with some rose or sandal and this way they can multiply the production and very few people (only those who dedicated their life to the art will be able to recognize it). I have personally seen some very well-known merchants, even perfume makers, fall into this trap and of course, they were not happy when we told them the truth, but they were grateful.

Why they should not do this?

First of all, musk is considered a pure clean material, on the contrary to animal urine, so to us this is not just cheating and deceiving but an unforgivable crime. It is a deadly sin and something that we will never tolerate and will go around telling everyone about if we find about it or know it is used anywhere by anyone because musk is the smell of the devoted, the pure and the dedicated, we have so many people, friends, family and clients using musk as the scent of choice in celebrations, religious activities and while praying or meditating, how in heavens name can anyone mix urine in someone’s perfume knowing that they will go pray, meditate, or even use it in an entire temple, church or mosque?

How can one know it?

There is no easy way to tell by the scent only, unless you have a super good nose or know the exact taste of musk and you taste that oil or grains (yes believe it or not most experts and old perfumist will touch the oil or grains on the tip of the tongue, and if you ever taste real musk even once, you will never forget the taste of it and doesn’t matter what they do, put, or mix they can’t get the taste right). Or simply do a lab test and if you do a lab test and get a generous combination of the following materials in the mix then sorry to tell you, but it’s urine. The unique compounds are (2- octanol, 2-nonenal, 2-methylhexane, dodecanal, hexane, 4-octene, limonene, ecrolein).

4- The fourth way is to use deer blood, similar to the above-mentioned way, this is not ethical, not honest and not good. Less used than the first way, this way is mostly used in some parts of China and Vietnam, the blood gets mixed with rose oil or water and then mixed with some musk.

Why they shouldn’t do it?

For the exact same reason mentioned above in the previous point.

How can one know it?

This is pretty easy. Simply leave the mix still for an hour or two, see it under the light if you see a liquid density difference or a still liquid in the bottom of the bottle then it’s most probably blood. Here you need to pay attention that this is a liquid and not the musk grains or residue. Additionally, if you slowly stir the liquid or the oil you will notice the material In the bottom acting and looking like thick ink when dropped in water (have heavy liquid lines floating and moving in the oil or the mix, sometimes the oil is too dark or thick so having some of it in a small thin vial and allowing some light on it will let the truth reveal itself).

In short, these are all the common unethical ways that some use or used in regard to faking or cheating with musk. We laid it all out for you and now you have the power of knowledge and truth and this will give you an advantage on many other people that don’t know, and for that reason, for the sake of truth, and the love of musk, please share this article with people whom you know or think are interested in musk or want to learn about musk, as this will help them, help you and both us and them will be thankful to you so it’s a win, win, win deal. Talking about winning, did you subscribe to our mailing list? Just in case you didn’t know, we occasionally send a couple of emails every month, so no email flooding. We never sell, give or share your personal information with others. We don’t send repeated generic stuff that doesn’t give you benefit, knowledge, or an advantage, so what are you waiting for?