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What is Colophony resin?

What is Colophony resin?

So, there's a lot of misinformation about Colophony (also know as Pine Rosin) out there so here's a quick guide.

Colophony is made from the resin harvested from various kinds of pine tree which is then boiled to remove the essential oils. This leaves a brittle solid ranging in colour from the lightest yellow to a deep red-black.

The resulting resin is then graded for purity:

  • A: darkest
  • K: yellow-red
  • M: yellow-brown
  • N: deep yellow
  • WG: window glass (mid yellow)
  • WW: water white (palest yellow)

What's it for?

Once you start looking, Colophony is everywhere: it's used in cosmetics, dental floss, paper making, inks, polishes, food packaging and so many other everyday items that it almost certain you've used a colophony product today.

It's also a traditional ingredient in beeswax wraps and in Oliwrap it adds a little stickiness and also helps to keep the wax on the fabric for a longer life.

Colophony isn't soluble in water so it helps to prevent the accidental removal of the wax coating when washing as well as raising the melting point of the formula so it won't simply slide off in hot weather.

Is it food safe?

In Europe there is no E number for Colophony so it can't be added to food but it is certified for use on

"...plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food."
- Commission Regulation EU 10/2011

so food wraps are in keeping with European guidelines regardless of its quality.

In the US the rules are a little tighter - only grades K and paler 

"...may be safely used as the food-contact surface of articles intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packing, processing, preparing, treating, packaging, transporting, or holding food."
FDA CFR 21 175.300

So as long as you're not using grade A. you're good to go in the US.

The legalities aside some people have pine allergies or sensitivities so if that's true for you any wrap with Colophony in it isn't going to be an option for you.

So, which grade do you use?

This was a bit of a no-brainer to be honest, we went with Water White, (every time I type that I think of Breaking that just me?) the purest grade of Colophony available.