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Assessing the coating and materials (wood, resin) used for lacquerware


Many lacquerware use wood as the key material. Speaking of lacquerware coated with lacquer, many people think that they are all made with natural wood and lacquer.


However, in the case of cheap lacquerware in particular, it might not be 100% natural in terms of its material. Here, we will explain what kinds of materials are used for lacquerware. We will also touch upon how to distinguish one from the other.


Types of coating material to be applied on the surface of wood
Lacquerware is created by coating lacquer on the object over and over again. But, in some cases, the lacquer might not be natural. Today, there are many lacquerware that are applied with a synthetic resin coating, and even coating materials made from cashew nuts are available. These coating materials can present a color similar to lacquer, but they are not real lacquer.


You can identify the coating material by checking the product label. Products that are applied with lacquer are indicated as “lacquer coating”. If a synthetic coating material is used, it should say “urethane coating”. If a cashew nuts coating is used, “cashew coating” should be indicated.


Natural lacquer is much more difficult to handle, so the price goes up. On the other hand, a synthetic coating material can lower the price. This does not mean that products with a synthetic coating material are bad. It only means that it is important to recognize the need to use different products for different purposes.


In the case of natural lacquer, you need to be careful about heat from a microwave oven and ultraviolet light. There are many points of caution when using lacquerware made of natural lacquer. However, if using inexpensive lacquerware applied with a synthetic coating material, you do not need to be that careful when handling.


Assessing the materials of lacquerware
We just learned that some lacquerware do not use lacquer as their coating material, but the same thing goes with the material of lacquerware. Today, some lacquerware are made of synthetic resin instead of wood. Also, a mixture of wood and synthetic resin is used in many cases as well.


If lacquerware is solely made of natural wood, “natural wood” is indicated on the product label. If a mixture of wood and synthetic resin is used, it should say “natural wood artifact”. If a product is completely made of resin (plastic), the material name should be indicated in the label like “XX resin”.


When lacquer is applied, the material underneath will be covered. In other words, it is difficult to judge by its appearance whether it is made of natural wood or synthetic resin. Therefore, you should also pay attention to the invisible part of the lacquerware when you actually purchase one.


The best way to distinguish what kind of material is used is to “submerge lacquerware in water”. Fill up a tank with water and submerge the lacquerware in water. When you release the object, natural wood products will rise to the surface. However, resin products will remain under the water.


Additionally, when lightly tapped with a finger, natural wood products will make a soft sound, but resin products will make a harder sound.


But, you cannot put lacquerware in the water or tap the product with your fingers over and over again at the store in order to distinguish the materials used. Instead, you should ask questions directly to a store clerk. It could turn into a nice conversation and you might be able to deepen your knowledge about that product.


As described thus far, “lacquer” does not mean 100% natural in material. Some are made of synthetic resin (plastic) or use a synthetic coating material that produces a luster similar to lacquer. These products are affordable, but they are not lacquerware made of natural wood and lacquer.


Please pay attention to the “coating and materials used” when you actually purchase lacquerware so that you do not mix one with the other.

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