THE BALTIC AMBER
Today more than 250 kinds of the
Baltic amber are known. They are determined by color is yellow.
Limpidity degree and color intensity depend on the number, size
and arrangement of the smallest opaque admixtures in amber.
(muddy) stones are limpid; it is easy to polish them.
Bastard stones are turlid, having
lots of air bubbles. They may be blotted with clods of pearl color
(white, light yellow), yellow or brownish. Bone amber is white or
ivory, opaque, sometimes with bluish tint.
Physical and chemical
characteristics of the Baltic amber are extremely various. Its
hardness according to Mohs’ scale is 2-3, but sometimes it
reaches 10. The Baltic amber is easily processed, cut, drilled or
polished. Amber density is from 1,05 to 1,096 g/cm 3.
Water of the Baltic Sea is not very salty. Amber density is
little, so it floats in the water and waves coast it ashore.
Because of its amorphous structure amber easily cracks. It also
easily takes fire and burns in a smoking flame spreading a smell
similar to that of incense. It is difficult to determine the exact
fusion temperature of the Baltic amber.
When the temperature reaches 170*C,
it becomes soft and sticky. This characteristic is used producing
pressed amber. Amber fuses and disintegrates when the temperature
is above 300*C. Only conofolium is left.
Under the effect of oxidation amber
weathers and becomes darker. Because of oxidation amber covers
itself with patina. Its thickness sometimes reaches some
Amber is resistant to non-oxidizing
chemicals and organic solvents. It melts being soaked in methyl
alcohol (of 11,3%), turpentine (of 16,9%), ether (of 18.8%),
acetone (of 23.3%). Chemical composition of the Baltic amber
(succinct) is: 78.55% of coal C, 9.64% of hydrogen H, 11,81% of
oxygen O. There is 3-8% of amber acid (C4H6O4) in succinct.
The most effective method of
investigating fossil resin is infrared spectroscopy. It helps to
identity succinct quite precisely and to distinguish it from other