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Amber chemical composition

12 January 2021

Amber is a hard resin of conifers, sporadically deciduous trees. Amber is older than the human existence on Earth. It can be divided into 60 different amber subcategories and groups.

The oldest of them were created in the Devonian, the youngest can be found in North America, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The largest natural amber sources are located in Russia in Kaliningrad. They contain 90% of all amber natural resources known to man.


What is amber composed of?

Amber cannot be fully dissolved in any dissolvent, and due to that property, the proper chemical analysis is impossible. Dissolving allows gas-liquid chromatography. Each and every chemical analysis of amber is based on the analysis of the amber parts which can be turned into a solution.

Amber can be slightly dissolved in ethyl alcohol, up to 25% total mass, 17-25% in turpentine, benzene 21%, pyridine 25%, and ethyl ether 18-23%. In its basic mass, amber is a polymer (a chain of linked molecules) of resin acids. C4H604, succinic acid is not a large, but extremely important molecule (3-8% by weight of Baltic amber). Most of the acid is located in the white amber or in the outside surface.

All fossil resins can be divided into retinites which contain 0-3% succinic acid, as well as succinites which contain 3-8% of the said acid. The chemical composition of amber is a mixture of many different compounds, the main component is coal (67-81% in total), as well as sulfur (1% in total). The rest is made of oxygen and hydrogen. Most of the amber types contain succinic acid (3-8%). The chemical formula of amber is C10H12O.


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