Urushiol Lacquer!

Urushiol lacquer table

In Japan and China, there is a tree that has a sap containing urushiol, the same oil that causes the skin rash from poison ivy, oak and sumac.

Somehow, workers in factories in these countries are able to harvest the oil from the trees, stir it in big bowls, and use it to lacquer all sorts of objects, without getting a rash of their own.

Here is a Wikipedia article with lots more info on this.

But this photo was sent to us by a friend whose family bought a table in China, only to find that leaning on the table caused rashes on their hands and forearms! They covered the top in glass, but still have to be very careful about the exposed lacquer at the corners.

Do you remember being told not to rest your arms on the edge of the table? This is a great way to prevent that habit.