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Kerria lacca commonly known as LAC is a species of insect in the family Kerriidae, the lac insects. It belongs to the superfamily Coccoidea, the scale insects. This species is perhaps the most commercially important lac insect, a resin which can be refined into shellac and other products. It is found throughout India, south east Asia, Nepal, Burma, Bhutan and south China. Lac is a resinous substance secreted by certain glands present in the abdomen of the lac insects. The secretion of lac begins immediately after the larval settlement on the new and tender shoots. This secretion appears first as a shining layer which soon gets hardened after coming in contact with air. This makes a coating around the insect and the twig on which it is residing. As the secretion continues the coating around one insect meet and fuses completely with the coating of another insect.

Lac is been in use in India since Vedic period. Its earliest reference is found in Atharva Veda. The name lac seems to be derived from the word Laksha meaning one lac in Sanskrit which is suggestive of the large number of insects settled on young succulent shoots of the host plant. The great Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’ also mentions a ‘Laksha Griha’, an inflammable house of lac, cunningly constructed by ‘Kauravas’, for the purpose of burning their great enemy ‘Pandavas’ alive. There are also evidences that ancient Greek and Roman knew the use of lac.

Lac is the only commercial resin of animal origin and is a natural polymer. It is made up of hydroxy fatty acids, principally aleuritic acid (9,10,16-trihydroxyhexadecanoic acid), and hydroxy sesquiterpenic acids.

Lac extracts yields crimsons to burgundy reds to deep purples using different natural mordant combination. The colours are warmer, softer, and more muted. It has good light and wash fastness on silk and wool as compared to cotton. Also lac is sensitive to pH. We employ the natural lac dye in powder form to produce pinks (light to dark shades), burgundy, purple etc by standardized dyeing process using different combination of natural mordants on fibers, fabric and garments with medium to good performance properties.

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