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Gum Copal

Gum copal is a natural resinous material of plant Agathis dammara (family Burseraceae). It has been used as a raw material for varnish because it produces glossy films with good weather protection properties. It has been used as pigment binder in varnishes due to the excellent binding properties. It has been mainly used as an emulsifier and stabilizer for the production of colour, paints, printing inks, aromatic emulsions and meat preservatives. Interestingly, Gum Copal was also used as medicine for several different ailments such as in the treatment of burns, headache, nosebleed, fever, stomach ache, and in the preparation of dental products and as remedy for loose teeth and dysentery.

Gum Copal Resin Contains:

  • Agathic acid, a diterpenoid and related lobdane compounds along with cis-communic acid, transcommunic acid, polycommunic acid, Sandaracopimaric acid, 
  • Agathic acid, monomethyl ester of agathalic acid, 
  • agatholic acid and acetoxy agatholic acid. 
  • CR obtained from leguminoaceae family contains copalic acid, pimaric acid, isopimaric acid, dehydro-dehydroabietic acid, 86 dehydroabietic acid and abietic acid

Grades of Gum Copal

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  • Color  White
  • Impurities < 0.5%
  • Dried 
  •  Melting Point 90-130 °C

Grade DBB

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  • Color  Yellow
  • Impurities < 2%
  • Dried 
  •  Melting Point 90-130 °C

Grade WS

Gum Copal
  • Color  Black
  • Impurities < 5%
  • Dried 
  •  Melting Point 90-130 °C

Grade Dust

Gum Copal Dust
  • Color  Yellow
  • Impurities < 4%
  • Dried 
  •  Melting Point 90-130 °C
Gum Copal mix
  • Color  White, Yellowish, Less Black
  • Estimate 30% PWS, 40% DBB,18% Dust, 12% WS
  • Impurities < 4 %
  • Dried 
  •  Melting Point 90-130 °C

A Spectrum of Colors and Grades:

Unlike a uniform blob, gum copal’s beauty lies in its diversity. Colors range from a light, almost ethereal white (Prime White Soft or PWS – the highest grade) to a vibrant yellow, with even some darker, black varieties existing. These variations depend on the source tree and the presence of impurities.

PWS: The purest grade of gum copal, with a white color and 99–100% purity, is utilized to make varnish intended for use on wood surfaces. The end effect is excellent shine and excellent resistance to exterior scratches. It also dries to a glossy, firm film.

DBB: This grade has a purity of 90–95%, is pebble-sized, and has a white yellow tint. This is an economy grade, well soluble material that is perfect for making low-end varnishes. Even though it may include some black copal, it dissolves completely and readily in mixes of alcohol and solvent. It’s also the most typical application for incense.

WS: The lowest grade of gum copal; it has bigger chunks, is black in color, and contains 60% pure gum copal with contaminants including dirt and treebark.

Powder is what’s left over after PWS and DBB are processed; it’s typically used for varnish.

A Legacy of Use:

Gum copal’s history stretches back centuries. Ancient civilizations utilized it for a multitude of purposes, including:

  • Incense: The pleasant aroma of burning gum copal made it a popular choice for religious ceremonies and offerings.
  • Early Glue: Its binding properties proved beneficial for crafting tools and other objects.
  • Folk Medicine: Traditional practices used gum copal to treat ailments like dysentery and stomach pain (though its effectiveness remains unproven scientifically).

Sustainable and Accessible:

Gum copal, a naturally occurring resin, provides a sustainable substitute for man-made products. Usually available in huge chunks for use in industrial applications such as varnishes, or in powdered form for use in incense and creative efforts.

A Treasure Unearthed:

Gum copal is a tribute to the creativity of nature, not merely a resin. Its special qualities and historical relevance confirm its status as a precious resource, inspiring makers, craftspeople, and anybody looking for environmentally friendly solutions in a variety of industries.

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