Canada Balsam is the pale yellow oleoresin from the the balsam fir tree. It is dries to a clear transparent film. It is used as a plasticizing resin for varnishes and paints. Canada balsam is amorphous when dried. Since it does not crystallize with age, its optical properties do not deteriorate. Although it needs to be stored in a cool, dark place.
The name "balsam fir gum" is mainly used in North America. In Europe, the product is called "Canada Balsam." It is also variously identified as turpentine, fir resin and fir gum.
Of all the species of fir in North America, the balsam fir (Abies balsamea) growing in Québec and New Brunswick, Canada, is the source of balsam fir gum or Canada balsam. It is a syrupy, greenish-yellow liquid that is drawn from small blisters on the trunk of the fir tree. Balsam fir gum is harvested between April and November, however, it is typical to harvest in warm weather, as the gum is more fluid during warmer temperatures.
There is a product sometimes to be found on the market under the name of “Oregon balsam,” which is not a natural product at all, but is a mixture of rosin and turpentine, closely resembling Canada balsam in appearance, and which is used to adulterate it frequently.
Canada balsam closely resembles Strasbourg turpentine in physical properties and composition. Strasbourg turpentine is obtained from the Abies alba, silver fir or European silver fir, and named after the trading center in Vosges. The Italians called it “Trementina di Strasburgo” or “di Alsazia.” It is a less viscous balsam used historically as a varnish (dissolved in spirits of gum turpentine) to provide special protection to easily decomposed pigments such as verdigris. It was used also as an ingredient in oil varnishes, sometimes to dissolve more insoluble resins such as amber.
Puchased for making microscope slides of small invertebrates, seems to be working just fine using clove oil as a solvent, excellent clean slides so far (well as far as my skills allow!). I struggled to find this at a reasonable price so was happy to get a supply from The Supreme Paint Company at a great price.
I really battled to find this stuff… It is perfectly clear, perfect viscosity, and no bubbles… Great for repairing the front elements of an old Pentax-M 100mm macro lens which had suffered hazing and balsam separation of the front pair of elements. End result is ‘as good as new’!
Thanks for your quick delivery of a good quality product.
This was bought for my Father who uses the Balsam for recoating precision camera lenses, and who considers it to be amongst the very best of such substances for doing so. The Balsam has no air bubbles, dries to perfect transparency and adds no additional colouring once dried.
Product supplied as described quickly and efficient - very happy
As I’ve only just begun to use it for microscopy, too soon to know how effective it will be. First results show it is doing as it should. Excellent service from company.
I purchased this to re adhere lenses and prisms within historic optical instruments. This product appears to be superb. I will let you know how it’s refractive index is holding up one 80 years or so.
A perfect product, delivered very quickly, with personal communication made immediately after order. Thank you.
I ordered some Canada balsam as a Christmas gift, the order was sent straight away, I would definitely buy from the supreme paint company again