MUSK, a substance of powerful and most enduring odour, is a secretion of the male Music DEER (q.v.). Three and is very inferior in point of ..odour.
Good musk is of a dark purplish colour, dry, smooth, and unctuous to the touch and bitter in taste. It dissolves in boiling water to the extent of about one-half, alcohol takes up one-third of the substance, and ether and chloroform dissolve still less. A grain of musk will distinctly scent millions of cubic feet of air without any appreciable loss of weight, and its scent is not only more penetrating but more persistent than that of any other known substance. Its chemical constitution has not been specially investigated ; but in addition to its odoriferous principle it contains ammonia, cholestrin, fatty matter, a bitter resinous substance and other animal principles. As a material in perfumery it is of the first importance, its powerful and enduring odour giving strength and permanency to the vegetable essences, so that it is a principal ingredient in nearly all compounded perfumes. Musk, or some substance possessed of the musk odour, is also contained in glands in the jaw of alligators and crocodiles, whence it has been extracted for use in perfumery in India and Egypt. The musk-ox and the musk-rat (Indian and European) are, as their names indicate, remarkable for a musk odour (see below). In the vegetable kingdom also a musky smell pervades the seeds of Alulmoschus moschatus, the entire plant Mimulus moschatus, and the sumbul root (Euryangium Sumbul).