A few years ago my son took a trip to Hawaii. Knowing my love for rocks, he brought me home two pieces. One turned out to be a piece of coral, but the other was odd, and had a funny texture when we held it in our hands. I can’t remember when the waxy feel of the rock joggled the little snippet of memory I had on ambergris, but it did, and I suddenly realized the texture pointed to the rock being ambergris. I did a bit of research, and yes, it had a definite ocean smell. It also had bits and pieces of squid beak and sand mixed in…yes, I had a real piece of ambergris. I was elated.
How to Identify Ambergris
“Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales.
Freshly produced ambergris has a marine, fecal odor. However, as it ages, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency. Although ambergris was formerly highly valued by perfumers as a fixative (allowing the scent to last much longer), it has now largely been replaced by synthetics.” ~ Wikipedia
As with any treasure, the quest was on to find more, and I did. The next piece of Ambergris was found in the opposite ocean, a piece of ambergris floated to me on a bed of seaweed, this time a gift from God. This piece is greyer in texture, not as aged and sweet as the first, but still a welcome find. It also has pieces of Squid beak embedded within it.
As you can see, my pieces of Ambergris have been cut in half. The other halves are with my nephew now, who was so intrigued by my treasures I was happy to give him pieces of them. I loved the fact that when I shared the piece from Hawaii, the resulting half resembled a heart. Somehow, in the sharing, the piece became even more special to me.
If you find a piece of “funky” stone on a beach and don’t know whether it is ambergris or just something yucky and gross, do the hot needle test on it. An example of how to perform this test can be found in the following Youtube video. Happy Ambergris hunting…who knows…you might find the biggest piece ever!