Cork is light and will float on water. For many thousands of years, this has been its most evident and most celebrated characteristic. In antiquity cork was used in fishing equipment.
Elasticity and Resiliency:
The cellular membranes are very flexible, making the cork both compressible and elastic. These characteristics, in alliance with others, largely explain how cork has become indispensable for stoppers.
This capacity means that the cork can be fitted perfectly against the walls of the bottleneck. When cork is subjected to strong pressure the gas in the cells is compressed and reduces considerably in volume. When released from pressure cork immediately recovers its original volume. Impermeability:
The presence of suberin (a complex mixture of fatty acids and heavy organic alcohol) renders cork impermeable to both liquids and gases. As a result it does not rot, and may therefore be considered one of the best seals available.
Insulation & fire retardant qualities:
Cork has one of the best insulating capacities, thermal and acoustical, of all natural substances. This is due to the fact that the gaseous elements are sealed in tiny, impermeable compartments, insulated one from the other by a moisture resistant material.
Cork is a natural fire retardant as it does not spread flames and does not release toxic gases during combustion.
Resistance to wear:
Cork is also remarkable resistant to wear and has a high friction coefficient. Thanks to the honeycomb structure of the suberose surface it is less affected by impact and friction that other hard surfaces. Hypoallergenic:
Cork does not absorb dust and consequently does not cause allergies nor pose a risk to asthma sufferers. It is constitutionally inalterable and so its efficiency is guaranteed.
The bark of the cork oak tree has a unique honeycomb structure composed of tiny cells filled entirely with air. The properties of cork derive naturally from the structure and chemical composition of the extremely strong, flexible membranes that are waterproof and airtight.
It should be remembered that each cubic centimetre of cork's structure contains between 30 and 40 million cells.
Because about 89% of the tissue consists of gaseous matter, the density of cork is extremely low, in the order of 0.12 to 0.20.
Delivering Nature - http://youtu.be/XMUQdKiBbjI
Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree, Quercus Suber L, which grows mainly in the Mediterranean region of the world. The bark is a vegetal tissue composed of an agglomeration of dead cells filled with air and lined with alternating layers of cellulose and suberin.
The use of cork as a raw material dates back to the Phoenician and Greek times. Because of its use as wine bottle stoppers, cork began to be known all over the world. In fact, it is the only material that manages to make a perfect sealing during the ageing of the wine.
Today, cork represents for Portugal a valuable resource being one of the most important exporting products.
Cork oak forests cover approximately 2.5 million hectares primarily in seven countries: Portugal, Algeria, Spain, Morocco, France, Italy and Tunisia.
This tree has a life span of about 250 years. Each cork tree must be 20 to 25 years old before it can provide its first harvest of cork bark called "virgin". This type of cork has a hard and irregular structure. After extracting the virgin cork a new layer of cork starts generating.
A typical tree produces several hundred kilograms of cork at each harvesting and will survive for many generations. The cork harvesting is made in a sustainable manner and does not harm the tree in any way.
Cork production is assured with new plantations every year. Trees are never cut down or removed without strong government intervention, which prohibits this activity.
Portugal, which produces more than 50% of the world's cork, has been particularly careful with this resource. The first Portuguese regulations protecting cork oak trees date to 14th century.
With the increasing concern for the environment, cork oak remains the only tree whose bark can regenerate itself after harvest leaving the tree unharmed. It is truly, a renewable, environmentally friendly resource. Furthermore, the cork oak tree has the remarkable capacity to retain carbon and a harvested cork tree fixates almost five times more carbon. This exceptional characteristic makes cork a naturally sustainable product and its use contributes to the preservation of a unique habitat in the world
The cork oak forests are well-adapted to the semi-arid regions of southern Europe, preventing desertification and providing the perfect habitat for many animal and plant species, including some rare species in extinction.
Preserving the cork oak forest areas, and the cork's economical viability, is essential to maintain the biodiversity, avoiding desertification and promoting regional social stability.
The role of cork in preventing the global warming is significant. The cork bark of the tree regenerates itself after harvesting and it is known that a harvested cork tree absorbs 3 to 5 times more carbon. A recent study indicated that Portuguese cork forests can absorb 4,8 million tons of carbon each year and it is estimated that Mediterranean cork forests can absorb over 14 million tons of carbon per year.
The cork industry itself is truly eco-efficient. All cork is used, not one gram of cork is wasted. Cork by-products, are used in different products (flooring, decorative items, automobile industry...), and recycling (post-industrial and post-consumer) is a common practice. Even cork dust is used to generate energy.
Care and maintenance products for cork flooring