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Re: parchment questions & gum sandarac

Pamela Rups wrote:

>A safety question has also arisen.  Does anyone know if gum sandarac is
>poisonous?  I know you don't want to get it on your hands and then eat
>something, but is it particularly toxic so that one would need to take extra
>precautions?  I've never heard anything about it being poisonous myself.

Sandarac is a resin exudate from a pine tree that lives in northern Africa,
Morrocco.  The trees botanical name is Callitris quadrivalvis Vent,.  Pinaceae.

Its constitution is approximately 80% pimaric acid, ~ 10% callitrolic acid, and
sandaricinic acid.

It is used in tooth cements, lacquers, varnishes and as an incense.  In
pharmaceuticals, it is used as na aid in ointments and plasters.

The bottom line is that it is not poisonous or toxic as you had feared, but
proper precautions should be taken when working with it such as keeping it away
from children's reach, removing excess from hands and making sure hands are
clean before ingesting food etc etc.

Also, it is soluble in alcohol, ether, acetone and other solvents.  It is
likely that the solvents are more toxic than the sandarac and caution should be
exercised here as well.  Use a well ventilated area such as a fume hood or the

Good luck, patrick


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