Musk is the dried secretion of the musk deer, hunted in Asia for the purpose of obtaining the secretion. It is separated in bags or pods; the best is known in commerce as Chinese, Thibet, or Tonquin musk. Siberian or Russian musk is equal in quality. Musk should always be purchased in sacs; it appears crummy, with a strong and persistent odor, and. of a bitterish taste. It should not be kept in a warm place, and access of air be permitted. The odor of musk disappears or is modified on triturating it with some oils (oil of bitter almond, fennel, etc.).

Substitutions And Adulterations

"The substitution of artificial musk bags, made from a piece of the hide stitched to a membrane, is readily recognized by the absence of the circular arrangement of the hairs and of the central aperture. Genuine sacs are sometimes slit open, the musk partly removed, and other, substances introduced in place thereof. This may usually be detected by being stitched together on the edge of the hide and inside membrane. There is no means of detecting the fraudulent introduction through the orifice of pieces of lead, etc., until after the bags have been opened.


"Musk should not have an ammoniacal odor. Cold water dissolves about one-half the weight of the musk; the solution should be deep-brown. faintly acid, and scarcely disturbed by solution of corrosive sublimate (ammonium carbonate). Weak alcohol yields a similar solution. Strong alcohol dissolves about ten per cent., yielding a slightly colored tincture, which should scarcely become turbid on the addition of water (resin, etc.). Carefully freed from fragments of skin and hairs, and heated upon platinum-foil, musk should give off a slightly urinous odor, but very distinct from the odor of burning blood, and should leave about six to eight per cent, of a gray (not red) ash". - N. D. A small quantity of musk, kept in a thin layer under oil of turpentine (or warmed with a little glycerine), and examined under the microscope, is seen to consist of diaphanous brown amorphous splinters and lumps, without being mixed with other foreign substances". - P. G. After Berzelius, an aqueous infusion of pure musk does not precipitate a solution of corrosive sublimate.

Tincture Of Musk

Musk, one ounce; alcohol and water, of each five ounces, mixed, ten ounces. Rub the musk in a mortar with some of the diluted alcohol, until a smooth mixture is made; then add the remainder of the alcohol, and macerate in a bottle for a week, occasionally shaking the bottle. Filter. This tincture will be of a dark reddish-brown color, which has a strong musk odor, and is miscible with water, yielding clear solutions. This tincture of musk is erroneously called oil of musk. Tincture of musk can, on account of its most extremely intense smell, but with greatest caution, be used, as the moshus aroma never should be so strong as to be recognizable in the presence of moshus tincture. On this account the above "oil of musk" may be diluted for practical use with a mixture of equal parts of alcohol and water, until twenty-five ounces of tincture are obtained. But the following two receipts are also very useful for bottlers' purposes.

Compound Tincture Of Musk

1. Musk, one ounce; vanilla bean, cut and sliced, one ounce; ambergris, four drachms (see ambergris); alcohol diluted, one quart. 2. Musk, six drachms; ambergris, three drachms; alcohol, diluted, one quart.