Also known as ‘Rosin’ or ‘Greek Pitch’, Colophony is an oleoresin derived from various conifer species, mostly pine. It is produced by distillation. The fresh liquid resin (crude turpentine) which is very rich in terpenes is distilled to separate the volatile parts from the fluid rosin. Since the source material varies so widely, the quality and properties of the resulting rosin also vary and ranges of grades are available commercially.
Rosin is incredibly versatile. It has been used for thousands of years. The Egyptians utilized it in their embalming potions and the ancient Chinese and Japanese used it as a lacquer. Even Noah used it as a pitch to make his Arche watertight. Rosin is just as, if not more popular today and employed in a multitude of different products, from printing inks to chewing gum, and from varnishes to pharmaceuticals. It is everywhere. Violinists treat their bows with blocks of rosin, dancers apply a powder to their shoes to increase friction. It is also used in piper sizing, soap manufacture, soldering fluxes and sealing wax, and more.
Rosin is used in the pharmaceutical industry for pill coatings and tablet film. Leonardo Da Vinci recorded a recipe for an ointment that included Rosin, as well as Frankincense. The Rosin was probably used to help dissolve the Frankincense and to blend it with the wax.
More commonly found in the box of tricks of stage magicians, Colophony is used as an ingredient of ‘mystic smoke’, a substance that when rubbed between the fingers appears to produce a smoke effect.
Rosin, Greek Pitch.