Wood is an Organic Material:
Like a human lung, wood has an incredibly fine cellular system, consisting of thin membranes and intercellular spaces.
This delicate texture has an incredibly large internal surface area.
One cubic centimetre of cellulose (percentage wise the most important ingredient of wood) has an internal surface area of around 6 million square centimetres!
This fine structure has the effect of a sponge and acts like an air filter.
✓ Wood absorbs and filters harmful and smelly substances
✓ Wood retains and releases moisture
✓ Wood reduces electromagnetic smog inside the house
A fundamental requirement of healthy homes is that our buildings act as a 3rd skin, something wood can do wonderfully. Wood as skin has to breathe so mustn’t be clogged or sealed by airtight coatings, paints and glues.
If we treat wooden surfaces in a natural low-maintenance way and so retain its ability to breathe we can live in a healthy home.
Natural Humidity Buffer
We’re all familiar with a hoarse dry throat in winter when our home’s central heating is running on full power. The dry air and stirred-up dust affects our breathing. A superior building material buffers and balances moisture independent of whether it’s extremely humid or dry.
When humidity rises untreated natural wood absorbs moisture and dries up the air. When humidity levels drop and the air dries up wood releases some of the retained moisture back into the atmosphere and keeps things in balance. Timber in a building is the ideal moisture buffer. The more natural untreated wood you have in your home the better the buffer effect.
If the humidity in a room rises from 35% to 65%, 1m2 of spruce cladding absorbs up to 10g of moisture in 12 hours and dries up the air.
In an experiment after installing natural wood ceilings and wall claddings the bathroom mirror rarely fogs over and hardly any condensation appears after a shower.
Antibacterial Properties of Wood
A study in the USA into “Plastic and Wooden Cutting Boards” by Dean Oliver, PhD showed dramatic results. Salmonella bacteria dies after a few minutes on a natural, untreated wood cutting board. On plastic boards salmonella thrives and increases in population.
As we live through the era of covid-19 it’s no surprise that researchers are interested in the anti bacterial properties of wood.
Many researchers have identified how wood repels bacteria better than plastic, glass or resin and indeed the scent from some wood VOC’s are harmful to bacteria not humans. (Tiina Vainio-Kaila – Woodproducts, Finland)
Research will continue, but we are in no doubt about the fact that natural wood is, and will always be, the healthiest building material to have in your home.