rosin or colophony, hard, brittle, translucent resin, obtained as a solid residue from crude turpentine. Usually pale yellow or amber, its color may vary from brownish-black to transparent depending on the nature of the source of the crude turpentine. Rosin has no taste but often has a faint odor of pine. It is soluble in alcohol, ether, turpentine, and several other organic solvents, and in solutions of various metal hydroxides. Rosin is not a pure substance but a mixture of several compounds, chiefly abietic acid. It is used in making cements, varnishes, paints, sealing wax, adhesives, and some soaps; for treating violin bows; as a dressing for machine belting; as a sizing material for paper; in the preparation of certain metals for soldering; and, in pharmacy, in some ointments, plasters, and similar preparations. Athletes commonly rub it (in the form of dust) upon their hands or the soles of their shoes to prevent slipping.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.