Ever since Human being present on earth, medicines are part and parcel of one’s life, either traditional or non traditional. As we know there are different forms of medicines; Liquid, Tablet, Capsule, Powder, Injection, Inhaler and so on…. and there could be very few people who have never swallow a capsule.
WHY capsule? In its shell, capsule contains medicine in the forms of powder or oil or miniature pallets, can be swallowed in whole, which straight away goes to the stomach; and the medicine contained inside the capsule is being absorbed as it reaches the intestine and the shell dissolves slowly. Usually shells of the capsules are made of Gelatine, which is a by product of animal fat formed from collagen, or else from cellulose. Now many of the capsule shells are produced using Stick lac as Wax which helps the capsule smooth enough to make the swallow process easy.
What is Stick lac?
Lac is the resinous secretion of a kind of almost microscopic tiny insect, popularly known as Laccifer Lacca. The lac insect belongs to the family of a scale insect and mealy bugs of the super family ‘coccoidea’.
Large number of tiny red larvae of about 0.5 mm. long come out of each mother cell and settle on the tender portions of fresh twigs of certain trees called lac hosts. The larva is sufficiently mobile to crawl along the branches of trees to find fresh succulent twigs. When it has fixed its position and inserted its proboscis into the trees it secretes a protective coating consisting of a dark red chitinous scale and a yellow to reddish resin called the lac resin. The insects mature under the protective covering of the resin which becomes hard. Wax glands near the vital pores – the oval region, the breathing pores and the anal pore keep them open by secreting wax filaments.
The larvae mould thrice inside the cell and becomes sexually mature male and female insects in about eight weeks. The female cell is roundish and the insect remains fixed to the twig. The male cell is somewhat longer with a round trap door through which the insect, sometimes winged, comes out, walks over the females, fertilizing several of them and dies. Their direct contribution to resin production is insignificant.
The female insect increases in size to accommodate her large number of growing eggs. The secretion of the resin and wax now proceed at a faster rate and a continuous layer is formed by coalescence and coatings. In another 14 weeks, when the female insect is about to lay eggs, she begins to contract, allowing light into the cell which shows up as yellow spots. When hatched, the larva emerge to begin a new life cycle of about six months. Thus, the insect completes two life cycles in a year yielding two lac crops. On an average three hundred thousand insects produce one kg of lac resin.
The host trees are pruned in proper season and when the new shoots come out, two or three sticks of broodlac containing living insects are tied on to branches near them. The larvae swarm out, settle on the shoots and go on producing the resin. After the infection of the trees with brood lac, the crop needs little or no attention till the time of harvesting. The crop is cut, and after keeping a portion apart to serve as broodlac for the next crop, the rest is scraped off from the twigs and sold in the market as Sticklac. Sticklac is converted to commercial grades of Seedlac and Shellac, which is used in industries for variety of purpose other than using as a Wax for capsule, such as Molamma, Kiri, Passewa, Shellac Wax and Lac Dye. Nowadays it is also used as Natural Wax for Fruits & Vegetables to prevent water loss, retard shrinkage and spoilage, and to improve appearance, since it is harmless for human consumption, than the petroleum based waxes.
At EK Prima, our local knowledge help us to search this unique raw material throughout the vast forests of Indonesian Islands to cater our clients’ needs.
Stick lac is one among the many products EK PRIMA sources and for the very reason the world rely on us for its needs as our tag line “YOU NAME IT ! WE SOURCE IT!” says.