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Subject: Identifying wax and tar

Identifying wax and tar

From: Leslie Weber <>
Date: Tuesday, July 16, 2002
I am looking for tests to identify beeswax or tar. Analytical
possibilities at the lab are restricted to spot tests. Tests so far
included solubility tests, melting point assessment, UV light
investigation, tests on unsaturated bonds, cellulose, and protein
(all negative).

>From the point of view of the possible use of the object, one could
expect olive oil or beeswax to be present. The material smells like
beeswax, is ochre colored and sticky but behaves very much unlike
beeswax in its solubility properties since it is very soluble in
acetone and ethanol, yet hardly soluble in chloroform (all unlike
beeswax). The material started melting around 100-120 C.
Fluorescence was of faint yellow-orange color.

I would be grateful to learn of other simple ways to identify
potential wax or tar if IRS or GC-MS (neither very rare/harmful
chemicals) are not available?

Leslie Weber,
Conservator for Archaeological objects BSc
C/o Agora excavation conservation laboratory, Athens
American School of Classics.
Panoramastr. 100
D-69250 Schonau
Deutschland / Germany
+49 6228 1613
+49 174 7295910

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:6
                  Distributed: Tuesday, July 16, 2002
                        Message Id: cdl-16-6-007
Received on Tuesday, 16 July, 2002

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