Science: Shellac Substitute

Shellac has been a critical material ever since the war cut supplies from India, virtually its sole producer. Shellac has unique properties as a protective finish, and none of its many substitutes has been quite satisfactory. But last week a new product was announced that seems to solve the shellac problem. It is called Zinlac and can be made cheaply from U.S. corn.

Natural shellac is produced in much the same way as beeswax. It is a resin secreted by insects called Laccifer lacca. After feeding on the sap of certain cultivated Oriental trees, the insects coat the tree twigs with an...

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