Japan wax, also known as sumac wax (alternatively spelled sumach wax), vegetable wax, China green tallow, and Japan tallow, is a pale-yellow, waxy, water-insoluble solid with a gummy feel, obtained from the berries of certain sumacs native to Japan and China, such as Toxicodendron vernicifluum (lacquer tree) and Toxicodendron succedaneum (Japanese wax tree).
Japan wax is a byproduct of lacquer manufacture. It is not a true wax but a fat that contains 95% palmitin. Japan wax is sold in flat squares or disks and has a rancid odor. It is extracted by expression and heat, or by the action of solvents.
Japan wax is used in candles, furniture polishes, floor waxes, wax matches, soaps, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, pastels, crayons, buffing compounds, metal lubricants, adhesives, thermoplastic resins, and as a substitute for beeswax. Because it undergoes rancidification, it is not often used in foods.
- Melting point = 124°F (51°C) or 45–53 °C.
- Specific gravity ≈ 0.975
- Soluble in benzene, ether, naphtha and alkalis; insoluble in water and cold ethanol.
- Iodine value = 4.5–12.6
- Acid value = 6–209
- Saponification value = 220