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Tips 18 Jul 2016

The characteristics and properties of Baltic amber

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Baltic amber - a magical stone, gold midnight.

Baltic amber, otherwise known as succinite is the best known fossilized resin derived from prehistoric trees. To this day, it's not been conclusively determined a tree native to Baltic amber. Since the nineteenth century, it is said to be the most common of the pine plant families - Pinus succinifera.

From the chemical point of view Baltic amber consists of 79% carbon, 10.5% oxygen and 10.5% hydrogen. It is practically insoluble in most common solvents.

Natural Baltic amber exists in two basic varieties (which depend on the internal structure) - transparent and opaque. Transparent variation is one in which there is no gas bubbles, otherwise known as trinket or honey, or in a small amount with a cloud. In turn, opaque variations may occur in the colors white and yellow.

Opaque white amber formed when the number of gas bubbles can reach 900 000 on the surface of 1 mm2. The internal structure is obtains then the form of foam, amber is very light, and the color becomes white. Opaque yellow amber is formed when the number of gas bubbles can reach 25 000 over 1 mm2.

Amber is a "living stone forever", which manifests its life changes in color. This happens after exposure to air, light, and by changes in humidity and temperature. Changes in the color and structure of amber are noticeable after 15-20 years. Bright colors go into more orange, red, covered with bark. Amber airs from the outside to the inside.

In nature there is no red or black amber. These colors are artificial, obtained in an autoclave under the action of heat, pressure and other inhibitors.

Baltic amber contains from 3 to 8% of succinic acid and it is distinguished from the other existing in the world resins (they contain from 0 to 3% succinic acid). Most of succinic acid is in the outer layer.

Therefore, believing in the health benefits of amber, it's best to wear products from not polished amber. In addition, rubbing it with a cloth will charge electrostatically and then it attracts small particles eg. scraps of paper. What's more, amber burning releases a pleasant, resinous odor. Amber floats on the surface of the salty water but sinks in fresh water (due to density similar to that of sea water). The Mohs hardness is 2.0 - 2.5 (between gypsum - hardness 2.0, and calcite - hardness 3.0).



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