Friday, 12 October 2007

Wood colour and chemistry

Here's a fun little video from the WoodWhisperer talking about how the colour of wood can change over time. This is all down to chemistry and something called oxidation. That's the same process that turns a sliced apple brown.

Sapwood is the outer part of the tree trunk - the wood that the tree is using to transport sap. The heartwood is the inner part of the tree trunk - the part of the wood that the tree uses to store waste chemicals...the extractives mentioned in this video.

As a tree ages the inner part of the sapwood slowly turns into heartwood. Heartwood provides structural support to the tree, but not much else and with very old trees it is common for the heartwood to be decayed away.

Different species of tree produce different extractive chemicals which explains why they can have such different colours.

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