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Shellac is obtained from the branches and twigs of several species of trees in India, where it is deposited by insects that feed on the sap of the trees. Shellac is insoluble in turpentine and mineral spirits but yeild cloudy solutions in alcahol. The cloudiness is due to waxes that are not entirely soluble in the alcahol but become clear after the varnish film has dried.
As a varnish, shellac dries quickly to a hard, tough, flexible skin and is useful for varnishing floors and furniture.
Shellac solutions should not be used as a final varnish in painting because it has a tendancy to turn yellow and crack in a short space of time. If used as an isolating medium in painting it must be completely covered by a paint pigment.
Metholated Spirits is the usual solvent used with Shellac in Australia.