Damar is an aromatic resin secreted mainly by the Dipterocarpaceae family of trees in Southeast Asia, of which those of the genera Hopea, Shorea and Balanocarpus are the most important commercially. The trees that yield Damars are commonly found in the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia, but also come from Borneo, Cochin China, Java and Thailand. Most Damar resins are produced by tapping trees, but can also be dug out of the ground in fossilized form.
Damar varies in color from clear to pale yellow, but it can be refined to an off-white powder. It is soluble in alcohol and turpentine, but not water. Damar has a melting point of around 120 degrees and is flammable.
Damar is a soft resin that has been used since ancient times for the production of lacquers and varnishes. Damar is soluble in vegetable turpentine oil, heated linseed oil and in alcohol. Damar lacquer has a beautiful high gloss that only slightly yellows. In oil painting, damar is used as a final varnish, retouch varnish and as an additive in various paints to give depth and shine. Damar is also often used in encaustic painting to give strength to the wax. Encaustic is an old painting technique where hot beeswax is used as a binder, as such the technique has been known and used since ancient Greece. For woodwork, Damar varnish gives a beautiful shine. Dammar is slow drying, it is therefore recommended to add siccative to dammar oil varnishes.
Damar is also used for the popular Bee's Wraps.
Damar is described as non-toxic.
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