Where to find gutta percha?
October 14, 2009 1:21 PM   Subscribe

How to obtain gutta percha? Once used to fashion tintype cases and to insulate the first trans-atlantic cable, it's since fallen out of fashion. Now, it's primary application is for the filling of root canals. Where can I find some in sufficient quantity for a craft project?
posted by aladfar to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Dharma Trading.
posted by KathrynT at 1:30 PM on October 14, 2009

uh, with one caveat -- those are thinned to a rubber-cement consistency, or a little thinner. If you need a more solid product, those might not work.
posted by KathrynT at 1:32 PM on October 14, 2009

Response by poster: That's a start! I'm looking for something a bit more solid - something that I can pour into a mold or do some basic carving with.
posted by aladfar at 1:57 PM on October 14, 2009

you must've acquired some hickory shafts; perhaps a mashie? a niblick?

google turns up:

posted by at at 3:04 PM on October 14, 2009

As you no doubt know, gutta percha can be used in weapons of mass destruction. Hence its distribution has been curtailed by the TSA.
posted by megatherium at 8:12 PM on October 14, 2009

megatherium: The TSA does not have the jurisdiction to control the distribution of a material, nor is gutta percha listed as a prohibited item. Nor can I find anything indicating it is controlled by the ATF, the most likely federal agency to have oversight. It's basically a form of latex.
posted by dhartung at 9:20 PM on October 14, 2009

Response by poster: I believe megatherium was being facetious.

But after a few more days of searching, I'm resolved to the fact that gutta perhca is not easily obtained in the US. Short of importing massive quantities from Asia, I believe I'm out of luck.

I'm considering polymer clay or something similar as a substitute.
posted by aladfar at 2:31 PM on October 15, 2009

aladfar, this may be a long shot, but try asking on the civil war reenactors forum. I know there is someone there that is somewhat active that makes cases for wet plate photographers and, the group as a whole is pretty helpful at finding hard to find chemicals.
posted by squeak at 3:29 PM on October 15, 2009

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