What Does Ambergris Look Like?


Quick Answer

Ambergris is a waxy substance formed in the digestive systems of sperm whales. It is usually gray or black and is found in lumps of various shapes and sizes.

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Full Answer

Most ambergris is found on beaches. It has been confused with feces, eroded rubber or old whale blubber. It is best identified by its distinctive earthy, marine, sweet smell. Ambergris has long been used in the perfume industry as a fixative and fragrance amplifier. It was used as medicine in the Middle Ages and more recently has been used in luxury foods. Ambergris cannot be legally owned or traded in the United States under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

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