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Dammar, also called dammar gum, or damar gum, is a resin obtained from the tree family Dipterocarpaceae in India and East Asia, principally those of the genera Shorea or Hopea (synonym Balanocarpus). Most is produced by tapping trees, however, some is collected in fossilised form on the ground. The gum varies in colour from clear to pale yellow, while the fossilised form is grey-brown. Dammar gum is a triterpenoid resin, containing many triterpenes and their oxidation products. Many of them are low molecular weight compounds (dammarane, dammarenolic acid, oleanane, oleanonic acid, etc.), but dammar also contains a polymeric fraction, composed of polycadinene.
Dammar is used in foods, as a clouding or glazing agent, and in incense, varnish and other products. Dammar varnish, made from dammar gum mixed with turpentine, was introduced as a picture varnish in 1826; commonly used in oil painting, both during the painting process and after the painting is finished.
Dammar resins were often used in the past to caulk ships, frequently together with pitch or bitumen.
The name dammar is a Malay word meaning ‘resin’ or ‘torch made from resin’.
There are two further types of dammar, besides the gum:
- Mata kucing (‘cat's eye’) is a crystalline resin, usually in the form of round balls.
- Batu (‘stone’) is stone or pebble-shaped, opaque dammar collected from the ground.
- Appearance: white powder
- Melting point: approx. 120 °C
- Density: 1.04 to 1.12 g/ml
- Refractive index: approx. 1.5
- CAS number: 9000-16-2
- EINECS: 232-528-4
- Harmonised Tariff: 1301-90
Stability and toxicity
The gum is stable, probably combustible and incompatible with strong oxidising agents. Its toxicity is low, but inhalation of dust may cause allergies.
- Agathis (Araucariaceae), synonym Dammara
- Canarium strictum (Burseraceae), source of black dammar
- Kauri gum, from Agathis australis
- Shorea hypochra (Dipterocarpaceae), source of dammar temak
- Shorea robusta (Dipterocarpaceae), source of sal dammar
- Vateria indica (Dipterocarpaceae), source of white dammar
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- Simon, Julia (19 October 2019). "Could This Tree Be an Eco-Friendly Way to Wean Indonesian Farmers Off Palm Oil?". All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved 20 October 2019.