A cake of rosin, made for use by violinists, used here for soldering


Rosin, also called colophony or Greek pitch (Pix græca), is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants, mostly conifers, produced by heating fresh liquid resin to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene components. It is semi-transparent and varies in color from yellow to black. At room temperature rosin is brittle, but it melts at stove-top temperatures. It chiefly consists of different resin acids, especially abietic acid.[1] The name, colophony or colophonia resina, comes from its origin in Colophon, an ancient Ionic city.



Structure of abietic acid, a component of rosin.

Rosin is an ingredient in printing inks, photocopying and laser printing paper, varnishes, adhesives (glues), soap, paper sizing, soda, soldering fluxes, and sealing wax.

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 is frequently seen as the burnt or clear residue around new soldering.

A mixture of pitch and rosin is used to make a surface against which glass is polished when making optical components such as lenses.

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:

  • Players of bowed string instruments rub cakes or blocks of rosin on their bow hair so it can grip the strings and make them speak.[2] Extra substances such as beeswax, gold, silver, tin, or meteoric iron are sometimes added to the rosin to modify its stiction/friction properties, and (disputably) the tone it produces.[3] Powdered rosin is often applied to new hair, for example with a felt pad or cloth, to reduce the time taken in getting sufficient rosin onto the hair. Lighter rosin is used for violins, darker for cellos, special type for basses—for more see Bow (music).
  • Violin rosin can be applied to the underside of bridges in other musical instruments, such as the Banjo and Banjolele, in order to prevent the bridge from moving during vigorous playing.
  • Ballet, flamenco, and Irish Dancers are known to rub the tips and heels of their shoes in powdered rosin to reduce slippage on clean wooden dance floors or competition/permanence stages. - it was at one time used in the same way in fencing and is still used as such by boxers.
  • Gymnasts use it to improve grip.
  • Olympic weightlifters rub the soles of their weightlifting boots in rosin to improve traction on the platform.
  • Bull riders rub rosin on their rope and glove for additional grip.
  • Fine Art; Used for tempera emulsions and as painting-medium component for oil paintings. Soluble in oil of turpentine and turpentine substitute, needs to be warmed.
  • In archery rosin is mixed with beeswax to dress the bowstring, thus lubricating and preserving it.[citation needed]
  • Dog groomers use powdered rosin to aid in removal of excess hair from deep in the ear canal.


Rosin and its derivatives also exhibit wide ranging pharmaceutical applications. Rosin derivatives show excellent film forming and coating properties.[4]They are also used for tablet film and enteric coating purpose. Rosins have also been used to formulate microcapsules and nanoparticles.[5][6]

Glycerol, sorbitol, and mannitol esters of rosin are used as chewing gum bases for medicinal applications. The degradation and biocompatibility of rosin and rosin-based biomaterials has been examined in vitro and in vivo.


Various types of rosin for violins, violas and cellos

Rosin is the resinous constituent of the oleo-resin exuded by various species of pine, known in commerce as crude turpentine. The separation of the oleo-resin into the essential oil-spirit of turpentine and common rosin is effected by distillation in large copper stills. The essential oil is carried off at a temperature of between 100° and 160°C, leaving fluid rosin, which is run off through a tap at the bottom of the still, and purified by passing through straining wadding. Rosin varies in color, according to the age of the tree from which the turpentine is drawn and the degree of heat applied in distillation, from an opaque, almost pitch-black substance through grades of brown and yellow to an almost perfectly transparent colorless glassy mass. The commercial grades are numerous, ranging by letters from A, the darkest, to N, extra pale, superior to which are W, window glass, and WW, water white varieties, the latter having about three times the value of the common qualities.

Other sources of rosin include 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.

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.


Pharmaceutical rosin

Rosin is brittle and friable, with a faint piny odor. It is typically a glassy solid, though some rosins will form crystals, especially when brought into solution.[7] The practical melting point varies with different specimens, some being semi-fluid at the temperature of boiling water, others melting at 100°C to 120°C. It is very flammable, burning with a smoky flame, so care should be taken when melting it. It is soluble in alcohol, ether, benzene and chloroform. Rosin consists mainly of abietic acid, and combines with caustic alkalis to form salts (rosinates or pinates) that are known as rosin soaps. In addition to its extensive use in soap making, rosin is largely employed in making varnishes (including fine violin varnishes), sealing wax and various adhesives. It is also used for preparing shoemakers' wax, for pitching lager beer casks, and numerous minor purposes.

Prolonged exposure to rosin fumes released during soldering can cause occupational asthma (formerly called colophony disease[8] in this context) in sensitive individuals, although it is not known which component of the fumes causes the problem.[9]

The type of rosin used with bowed string 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.

Prolonged over-exposure by handling rosin-coated products, for example, laser printer or photocopying paper, can give rise to a form of industrial contact dermatitis.[10]


Colophony or Rosin from the Maritime Pine

The chief region of rosin production is Indonesia, southern China, such as Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Yunnan and Jiangxi, and the Northern part of Vietnam. Chinese rosin is obtained mainly from the turpentine of Masson's Pine Pinus massoniana and Slash Pine P. elliottii.[citation needed]

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 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Fiebach, Klemens; Grimm, Dieter (2000). "Resins, Natural". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. doi:10.1002/14356007.a23_073. ISBN 978-3-527-30673-2. 
  2. ^ Mantel, Gerhard (1995). "Problems of Sound Production: How to Make a String Speak". Cello Technique: Principles and Forms of Movement. pp. 135–41. ISBN 978-0-253-21005-0. 
  3. ^[dead link]
  4. ^ Satturwar, Prashant M.; Fulzele, Suniket V.; Dorle, Avinash K. (2005). "Evaluation of polymerized rosin for the formulation and development of transdermal drug delivery system: A technical note". AAPS PharmSciTech 6 (4): E649–E654. doi:10.1208/pt060481. PMC 2750614. PMID 16408867. 
  5. ^ Lee, Chang-Moon; Lim, Seung; Kim, Gwang-Yun; Kim, Dong-Woon; Rhee, Joon Haeng; Lee, Ki-Young (2005). "Rosin Nanoparticles as a Drug Delivery Carrier for the Controlled Release of Hydrocortisone". Biotechnology Letters 27 (19): 1487–90. doi:10.1007/s10529-005-1316-x. PMID 16231221. 
  6. ^ Fulzele, S. V.; Satturwar, P. M.; Kasliwal, R. H.; Dorle, A. K. (2004). "Preparation and evaluation of microcapsules using polymerized rosin as a novel wall forming material". Journal of Microencapsulation 21 (1): 83–89. doi:10.1080/02652040410001653768. PMID 14718188. 
  7. ^ Palkin, S.; Smith, W. C. (1938). "A new non-crystallizing gum rosin". Oil & Soap 15 (5): 120–122. doi:10.1007/BF02639482. 
  8. ^ "colophony disease", Archaic Medical Terms List, Occupational, on Antiquus Morbus website
  9. ^ Controlling health risks from rosin (colophony) based solder fluxes, IND(G)249L, United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive, 1997 (online PDF) ISBN 0 7176 1383 6
  10. ^ Rosin (colophony) allergy page, from DermNet NZ

External links

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, (from the pine)

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rosin — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Daniel Rosin (* 1980), deutscher Fußballspieler David Rosin (1823–1894), jüdischer Gelehrter und Theologe Frank Rosin (* 1966), deutscher Koch Harry Rosin (* 1943), deutscher Mediziner und Umweltforscher… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Rosin — Ros in, n. [A variant of resin.] The hard, amber colored resin left after distilling off the volatile oil of turpentine; colophony. [1913 Webster] {Rosin oil}, an oil obtained from the resin of the pine tree, used by painters and for lubricating… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Rosin — Ros in, v. t. To rub with rosin, as musicians rub the bow of a violin. [1913 Webster] Or with the rosined bow torment the string. Gay. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • rosin — ► NOUN ▪ resin, especially the solid amber residue obtained after distilling oil of turpentine and used for treating the bows of stringed instruments. ► VERB (rosined, rosining) ▪ rub or treat with rosin. ORIGIN Latin rosina, from resina resin …   English terms dictionary

  • rosin — [räz′ən] n. [ME, altered < MFr, resine,RESIN] the hard, brittle resin, light yellow to almost black in color, remaining after oil of turpentine has been distilled from crude turpentine or obtained from chemically treated pine stumps: it is… …   English World dictionary

  • Rosin — Rosin, Heinrich, Jurist, geb. 14. Sept. 1855 in Breslau, habilitierte sich, nachdem er mehrere Jahre im praktischen Justizdienst tätig gewesen war, daselbst 1880 und wurde 1883 außerordentlicher Professor in Freiburg, 1888 ordentlicher Professor… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • rosin — (n.) mid 14c., from O.Fr. raisine, variant of résine (see RESIN (Cf. resin)). The verb is from late 15c …   Etymology dictionary

  • rosin — Rosin, Roseus …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • rosin — rosiny, adj. /roz in/, n. Also called colophony. 1. Chem. the yellowish to amber, translucent, hard, brittle, fragmented resin left after distilling the oil of turpentine from the crude oleoresin of the pine: used chiefly in making varnishes,… …   Universalium

  • rosin — ros·in || rÉ’zɪn n. (Chemistry) yellowish or brownish resin derived from the oleoresin or wood of pine trees (commonly used in varnishes, inks, and as a treatment for the bow of some musical instruments) v. rub with rosin, treat with rosin …   English contemporary dictionary

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