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Gum rosin (also known as colophony and gum resin) is a natural plant resin that was used as far back as ancient Rome and Egypt. Gum rosin is chiefly derived from pine trees and has a wide variety of industrial applications – particularly as a processing aid and binding agent. It can also be modified to create other useful derivatives (e.g. rosin esters).
The color of rosin ranges from pale yellow to dark brown/black. It has a glossy, semi-transparent appearance and is a brittle solid when it is cool. However, its color and hardness may vary depending on its state.
The melting point of tree gum cannot be determined with certainty due to its amorphous structure. Nonetheless, it begins melting at around 80 to 125 degrees Celsius (approx. 176 to 257 degrees Fahrenheit).
Rosins are readily soluble in alcohol, benzene, ether, acetone and acetic acid. They are sensitive to water despite having low aqueous solubility.
Gum rosins are distillation residues of natural resins obtained from some species of pine trees, predominantly Scotch pine. The process involves making incisions on the outer layers of a pine tree and collecting the sap (resin) dripping out of the tree. Subsequently, distillation is carried out to separate turpentine oil from the resin, leaving behind rosin.
Natural rosin contains around 70 percent resin acids, 20 percent turpentine and 10 percent water.
Regardless of whether it is paints, adhesives or solder pastes, it is crucial to select the right gum resin for the application at hand. Depending on the region and tree species, gum resins can vary slightly from each other, for example in terms their resin acid content, color and crystallization tendency.
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Gum rosin is used as a processing aid and binder in paints and inks. In addition, they can also act as tackifiers for label adhesives. Gum resins have a wide range of industrial applications. For example, the resins can act as binders for paints. Moreover, they can be used to increase the tackiness of wax mixtures, promote wetting during soldering and improve the static friction of bows for stringed instruments.
They are also used in the manufacture of inks, adhesives, rubber, caulking compounds and sealants. They are mostly added to help stabilize a product, increase its adhesiveness or accelerate the drying process.