Lac is a natural, biodegradable, non-toxic, odourless, tasteless, hard resin and non-injurious to health. Lac is, in fact, a resinous protective secretion of tiny lac insect, Kerria lacca (Kerr.) which belongs to the family Tachardidae in the super family Coccoidea of the order Hemiptera. The lac insect is a pest on a number of plants both wild as well as cultivated. The tiny red–coloured larvae of lac insect settle on the young succulent shoots of the host plants in myriads and secrete a thick resinous fluid which covers their bodies. The secretion from the insects forms a hard continuous encrustation over the twigs. The encrusted twigs are harvested and the encrusted twigs scraped off, dried and processed to yield the lac of commerce which is regarded as Non Wood Forest Product (NWFP) of great economic importance to India. The lac insects yields resin, lac dye and lac wax.
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Composition of stick lac
- Lac resin - 68%
- Lac wax - 6%
- Lac dye - 1%
- Others - 25%
Lac resin: It is an ester complex of long chain hydroxy fatty acids and sesquiterpenic acid.
Lac dye: It is an anthraquinone derivative.
Lac wax: It is the mixture of higher alcohol, esters, acids and hydrocarbons.