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I noted previously that allergic reactions to violin rosin were causing me problems, sometimes serious enough that I had to stop playing. I identified three rosins that are marketed as hypoallergenic. FWIW, here is my experience:
- Clarity: Synthetic, not made from pine resin. Very poor grip on the strings, totally unacceptable. I guess it worked for my allergies because I threw it away and it has never caused me a problem since then, haha.
- Jade: Made from pine. Better grip than Clarity, but still nowhere near the grip that I get from regular rosin. I didn’t throw it away, but I did place it in the drawer along with all the other miscellaneous fiddle stuff. Maybe someday...
- Geipel: "Only pine resin is used in the manufacturing process and every care is taken to ensure it remains free of dust.” That’s not really true -- it does leave a fair amount of dust on the strings and fiddle. It has better grip than the others -- not as grippy as regular rosin, but acceptable. Also needs to be applied more frequently. But the allergy effects are minimal and I can go ahead and play. Like other kinds of rosin, prices vary wildly depending on where you buy it.
I hope this is helpful for some other fiddler, but YMMV!
I use Jade myself, never had a prob with it, but that said its a matter of personal choice.
You are going to get dust no matter which you use, as for the grip thats as much to do with technique, as Gordon says.
as for the grip thats as much to do with technique, as Gordon says.
To an extent. I've had a terrible day today - new room, unheated, couldn't get to grips with either the acoustics or my tone or anything else.
I found this page* by accident on FB, and it might interest people on this forum.
I ended up slathering as much dark rosin as I could on my bow, twice, and bowed everything vigourously. Improved a little. Orchestra tomorrow and then back to the other half's boxroom for 5 days.
(*Colophony is named after a town in what is now Turkey called in Greek Kolophon. I guess there are pine trees there. There's probably a wiki page on it)
Rosin is also sensitive to humidity changes, as I found out earlier this year, so you'll need both a dark and a light(er) rosin as the seasons/conditions change in your particular area.
I have noticed that my Holstein dark isn't as dusty but it makes me sneeze. My Pirastro gold smells like pine trees but leaves more dust behind. Not as much sneezing with it as with the Holstein though.
I know we've talked about this elsewhere - Conifer sap/needles, pollen, sawdust, and even pine nuts are allergens that can cause mild to extreme reactions. See here for more info: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/r.....in-allergy
If you have a true allergy to rosin - I'm having a hard time believing it's good to use any product with elements of pine or other conifer.
If it's just a dust issue, I think many people don't realize that if you SEE dust - much more is always unseen, suspended in the air. I don't do more than a couple swipes of rosin & I've definitely seen a plume of rosin dust when I 1st play afterwards - even though I flick off ALL excess rosin from the bow (do this from underneath the hair & with the backside of the thumb) - and I do it at arms length, away from my face & my pet's eyes (make sure they aren't nearby)!
Yes, the 1st time new bow hair is used it needs to be rosined well. IMHO, it doesn't need a lot after that. I have found too much rosin can just as bad as none - the bow will slip & not catch the string. I don't see fine violinists with any residue on their instruments and usually barely any indication on their strings. Now, I've seen some 'fiddlers' slather rosin all over & never clean it off their strings or instrument. I'm starting to think they need a re-hair or just like an 'old worn' look, because I can play hard for a couple days - usually a couple hours a day, before I need to re-rosin (Premium Holstein).
It's really not healthy for anyone to inhale ANY rosin dust or expose our eyes to a plume of it. Rosin is sticky - imagine what happens in our lungs, nasal passages & eye membranes over time. Over the years I've dealt with silica sand dust, aluminum oxide dust, silica carbide dust, wood dust, clay dust, ceramic dust, glass dust, all sorts of sprayed solvents, adhesives & paints - and I did my best to follow the OSHA guidelines, because ALL fine particles suspend in the air & are hazardous to breathe. I bet if we ever had a Surgeon General who played the violin, we might still be wearing masks long after covid - so use it sparingly!
Another thing to think about - if you get some rosin on your hands or fingers, wash them before accidentally touching your face/eye area or your pets.
Just food for thought... didn't mean to rant. 🙄
NOW, CRANK OUT THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC - FULL VOLUME!
@RDP - Sorry that our rosin has that affect on you. 😢
The Holstein is actually my favorite rosin despite the sneezing. The Pirastro doesn't seem to work as well overall, even though it performs better when there's a lot of humidity in the air. The Holstein gets gummy on damp days but since we don't have that many of those out here in the desert, it works fine most of the year.
When I bought the Pirastro I got a half cake just to try it out. If there's a Holstein light, I might give that a try too.