Damar is a pale, yellowish, easily brittle resin with clean edges. Damar is found in Southeast Asia; the name is Malay and means "resin" or "torch" (torches made of damar are very good because they do not drip). Damar is obtained from trees belonging to the Diptocarpaceae family. The most common damar on the market is obtained from Sumatra and may have a prefix according to the place of origin. Damar is obtained by cutting deep edges in the trees, in which the resin can accumulate. The resin pieces on the market are about 3 cm big. However, larger pieces are also common. Damar pieces, which look like a pear or club, are obtained naturally. The resin is thus "sweated-out" by the tree, and not obtained by cutting the trees. Damar contains about 40% resin, dissolvable in alcohol (alpha-resen), and about 22% resin which is non-dissolvable in alcohol (beta-resin). Furthermore it contains about 23% dammarol acid and 2.5% water. The slight odor is obtained from the small amount of ethereal oils. Damar resin is a little harder than colophony resin. It starts to soften at about 90° C and melts at about 180° C. Damar is only partially dissolvable in alcohol and ether, and is well dissolved in turpentine oil, chloroform, carbon disulphide and petroleum ether. Damar is indispensible for the preparation of light, clear and easily volatile varnishes. This resin is used as a final varnish in both oil and tempera painting. In addition, it is also used in oil painting as an additive or diluting agents which increases the drying time. During the preparation of varnishes or paints, turpentine oil of high quality should be used (double-rectified). The resin is dissolved cold and by stirring. If stored in dark bottles, the damar solution is more stable than under the influence of light. Further dilution should only be carried out with the same solvent used to dissolve the resin.
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