Rosin can be used as a glazing agent in medicines and chewing gum. It is denoted by E number E915. A related glycerol ester (E445) can be used as an emulsifier in soft drinks. In pharmaceuticals, rosin forms an ingredient in several plasters and ointments.
In industry, rosin is the precursor to the flux used in soldering. The lead-tin solder commonly used in electronics has about 1% rosin as a flux core helping the molten metal flow and making a better connection by reducing the refractory solid oxide layer formed at the surface back to metal. It's frequently seen as the burnt or clear residue around new soldering.
Rosin is added in small quantities to traditional linseed oil/sand gap fillers, used in building work.
When mixed with waxes and oils, rosin is the main ingredient of mystic smoke, a gum which, when rubbed and suddenly stretched, appears to produce puffs of smoke from the finger tips.
Rosin is extensively used for its friction-increasing capacity in several fields:
Other sources of rosin includes rosin (called tall oil rosin) obtained from the distillation of Crude Tall Oil (CTO). Crude Tall Oil is a by-product obtained from the kraft paper making process. Additionally rosin may be obtained from aged pine stumps. This type of rosin is typically called wood rosin. In this process, aged wood stumps are chipped and soaked in a solvent solution. The solvents are recovered along with the rosin, fatty acids, turpentine, and other constituents through distillation. In the United States, pine stumps of trees killed during the American Civil War were highly prized, but are now difficult to locate.
On a large scale, rosin is treated by destructive distillation for the production of rosin spirit, pinoline and rosin oil. The last enters into the composition of some of the solid lubricating greases, and is also used as an adulterant of other oils.
Prolonged exposure to rosin fumes released during soldering can cause occupational asthma (formerly called colophony disease in this context) in sensitive individuals, although it is not known which component of the fumes causes the problem.
The type of rosin used for instruments is determined by the diameter of the strings. Generally this means that the larger the instrument is, the softer the rosin should be. For instance, double bass rosin is generally soft enough to be pliable with slow movements. A cake of bass rosin left in a single position for several months will show evidence of flow, especially in warmer weather.
The South Atlantic and Eastern Gulf states of the United States is also a chief region of production. American rosin is obtained from the turpentine of Longleaf Pine Pinus palustris and Loblolly Pine P. taeda. In Mexico, most of the rosin is derived from live tapping (gum rosin) of several species of pine trees, but mostly Pinus oocarpa, Pinus leiophylla, Pinus michoacana and Pinus montezumae. Most production is concentrated in the west-central state of Michoacán.
The main source of supply in Europe is the French district of Les Landes in the departments of Gironde and Landes, where the Maritime Pine P. pinaster is extensively cultivated. In the north of Europe rosin is obtained from the Scots Pine P. sylvestris, and throughout European countries local supplies are obtained from other species of pine, with Aleppo Pine P. halepensis being particularly important in the Mediterranean region.
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