April 15, 2021
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The African civet, Civettictis civetta, is one of the species that secretes civet fluid.

Civet (ZibethZibetZibetum), also known as civet musk, is the glandular secretion produced by both sexes of the civet (Viverridae).

A number of species of civet, Civettictis civetta of Ethiopia, and Viverra zibetha and Viverricula indica of India, Malaya, Indochina, and Indonesia, can yield civet oil. Most civet is however produced by civet farms in Africa, where the secreted oil is taken from the pouches of caged animals once a week.[1][2] African civets typically produce three to four grams of civet each week. In 2000, civet sold for about five hundred dollars per kilogram.[3]

Civet is a soft, almost liquid material. It is pale yellow when fresh, darkening in the light and becoming salve-like in consistency. Its odor is strong, even putrid as a pure substance, but once diluted it is pleasantly and sweetly aromatic. It is prepared for use in perfumery by solvent extraction to yield either a tincture (10 or 20 percent), an absolute, or a resinoid.[1][2]

The chemical in civet oil that gives it most of its distinctive odor is civetone, at a concentration of between 2.5 and 3.4 percent. The oil also includes various other ketones such as cyclopentadecanonecyclohexadecanonecycloheptadecanone, and 6-cis-cycloheptadecenone. The animal scent is reinforced by the presence of smaller amounts of indole and skatole, which in African civet are present at a concentration of about 1 percent.[1][2]

Civet has a distinctly different odor from musk and was formerly a versatile ingredient of fine fragrances. It is being displaced by 5-cyclohexadecen-1-one (Ambretone) which is more easily synthesized.[1]

Civet absolute [68916-26-7] is used as a flavor and in perfumery.[4][5]

The name derives from the Arabic zabād or sinnawr al-zabād, civet cat (Viverra civetta), by way of Old Italian zibetto and Middle French civette.[8] [9]

The 10th century Arab historian al-Masudi mentioned civet (zabāda) as a spice in his book Murūdj al-dhahab (Meadows of Gold).[10]

Civet was among the many trade items that caravans, controlled by the Ghana empires, carried from the Niger valley to North Africa.[11]


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