Shellac is obtained from the scale insects, Laccifer lacca. It is quite commonly found in India and Thailand. The female insect is the major producer of the shellac. The lac is in the form of small grains of the size of an apple seed. When removed from the tree as a raw material for shellac, it is called sticklac. This consists of the resin, twigs, remains of the bug etc. It has to be crushed washed and dried before use. Shellac is hard and odorless when cold, but has a characteristic smell on heating or melting. Superior grades are light yellow in color, while the inferior grades range from deep orange brown to almost dark red. It is a powerful bonding material with low thermal conductivity. It is resistant to the action of ultraviolet rays and is non-toxic. |
Shellac has been used for centuries in India for a variety of purposes including medicines, dies, fixers and cosmetics. Lac jewellery is treasured in the traditional ceremonies. Apart from the ornaments it is also used for textile dyes, trinkets, pillboxes, sealing wax, fireworks, electrical insulators and other handicraft & gift items. It can be mixed with alcohol to make furniture varnish. Shellac is versatile in usage and can be colored, carved, inlayed, perforated, painted.