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A resin is a solid or highly viscous substance of plant or synthetic origin, which is usually mixtures of organic compounds, that is typically convertible into polymers. As there are multiple types of resin, this page will focus on natural-derived resins.

While similar to natural gum, plant resin typically has lower polysaccharide content and more cyclic hydrocarbons, though for many plant species the term is used interchangeable. Other liquid compounds found inside plants or exuded by plants, such as sap, latex, or mucilage, are sometimes confused with resin but are not the same. Saps, in particular, serve a nutritive function that resins do not.


Most plant resins consist of terpenes. Specific components are alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, delta-3 carene, and sabinene, the monocyclic terpenes limonene and terpinolene, and smaller amounts of the tricyclic sesquiterpenes, longifolene, caryophyllene, and delta-cadinene. Some resins also contain a high proportion of resin acids. Rosins on the other hand are less volatile and contain many diterpenes.[1]

Examples: amber (fossilized resin), colophony (rosin), copal, frankincense, mastic, myrrh, shellac (insect in origin), etc.


Resins are clear or colored soft or brittle solids or highly viscous liquids. Plant resins are not soluble in water, but they are more soluble in organic solvents.


Resins can be found on many trees. If you're too lazy to pick them up, you can always buy them from various stores or online.


Plant resins are valued for the production of varnishes, adhesives, and food glazing agents.

Colophony is often used as flux when soldering electronics.



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