Is Wood Heterogeneous or Homogeneous?

There are so many amazing uses of wood. It is strong therefore it is perfect as building material and also for as furniture. It is versatile; it can be manufactured into different everyday items like paper, insulation and fashion accessories.

Wood is also very beautiful this is why it is used as accents for homes and even jewelry. A reason why wood is so amazing has got to do with its many vital components.

A heterogeneous or homogeneous mixture?

A quick answer to this question: wood is a heterogeneous mixture.

Bet you did not realize that wood is a mixture much like the human body is also a mixture. Wood is also a heterogeneous mixture which means it is made up of a variety of compounds but these compounds are available in varying concentrations in the body of the wood.

One sample of wood may contain more water or oxygen compared to samples taken from other areas. A heterogeneous mixture is a mixture in which all the compounds or elements are mixed in different proportions throughout the wood.

A homogeneous mixture is a mixture with compounds present in even proportions throughout the body of the mixture. Some examples are water, perfume, air, steel, brass, and white glue. No matter where you get a sample from these materials, the composition of the mixture will remain the same.

The chemical and physical characteristics of wood

Wood is made up of cells with only the cell walls having specific gravity. The actual composite of cell matrices varies greatly in shape, size, and arrangement.

It may look very similar to a sponge but made of lignocellulose with much lower specific gravity compared to the theoretical maximum due to the spaces in the matrices that are filled with air and water.

Also similar to a sponge, you can count on some wood species to float because of having specific gravities lower than 0. Other tropical hardwoods are heavier and even heavier than water because these are very dense. The heaviest of all has a specific gravity of 1.05 which will make it sink.

The heterogeneous quality of the wood is further seen in its ability to trap water within its many crevices and even inside its organic walls. Green wood is mostly filled with moisture which could reach up to 200%.

At this amount of moisture, green wood cannot be used right away. You need to season or dry it completely before using it as firewood and even as a building material.

Seasoning takes 6 months (season for a season) and this can change depending on the type of wood. Some wood can take as long as a year because of their very dense structure and very high moisture content while some can take around two or three months because of less moisture.

Some contractors speed up the drying process by seasoning wood in a kiln. At controlled temperatures, wood is dried to perfection, ready to be used as building material. When wood is not sufficiently dried before using as firewood, it takes longer to light and if it does light, it becomes very hard to manage and may crack and spark.

Poorly seasoned wood can also result in harsh gasses that can cause respiratory illnesses. It causes ash and creosote to form on the walls of the chimney and stoves which is very hard to remove. Creosote can obstruct the openings of chimneys leading to the accumulation of smoke inside a home.

Weight of wood

Wood can be earlywood or latewood. Earlywood cells are developed during the fast-growing early weeks of growth. This is when moisture is at its peak and is higher with thinner cell walls to improve the flow of materials in and out of the many crevices of wood.

But as wood starts to slow its growth or during its latewood years, the cells that are formed take on a denser form with thicker cell walls and smaller cell lumina.

Conclusion

Wood is a heterogeneous mixture. It is a mixture of compounds but is not evenly distributed inside the woody material. You can take samples from one type of wood and find different levels of compounds like gasses, sap, moisture, etc. Different types of wood also vary in composition, moisture content, density, weight and more.

  • January 5, 2019
  • DIY
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