Wood is a material that is no stranger to us – we’re all familiar with it and its many uses in our everyday life. We can attribute its abundance to the vast supply of trees we have, and it’s one of the oldest building materials. It’s the go-to material for constructing our furniture, floors, and doors, to name a few.
Musical instruments such as piano, violin, cello, and guitar, are made using mahogany, maple, and ash wood, all of which are perfect for guitars. Toys and sporting equipment such as hockey sticks and tennis rackets are commonly made using willow and mulberry.
Teak, mahogany, shimul, Sundari, jackfruit, and mango tree are perfect options for producing furniture. While for shipbuilding, teal shal, mango tree, Arjun, cypress, redwood, white oak, and kauri are types of wood.
Despite the versatility and beauty of this resource, it pays us to know if it’s an eco-friendly option, especially when its finished product is no longer in use. This means taking a look at whether or not wood is biodegradable. So, let’s dive right in!
Is Wood Biodegradable or Non-biodegradable?
Nowadays, the use of wood has increased and become more diversified. As such, manufacturers now use it for making a large variety of things. These include making cooking utensils, decorations, constructing fences, creating artwork, making musical instruments, toys, and even sporting equipment.
Wood was even used as a fuel source before we invented gas cookers and other alternative cooking methods, and some still use it today.
Wood is such a versatile resource, and its versatility is due to the various types with diverse uses. There are over 50 different types of wood in the world today—each with its unique property and service.
For example, deodar, walnut wood, teak, pine, mango tree, and bur-flower tree are woods used in home construction. Cedar and redwood are commonly used for making fences and decorating gardens. The black walnut tree is best for making cooking utensils, while pine, maple, and cherry tree are best used for creating art.
Wood is a resource that’s naturally grown, and anything that’s naturally grown is biodegradable. Wood decomposes from fungi and microbes. Additionally, if it’s exposed or left open and unused for a while, it begins to rot.
This natural material, however, equally requires some natural factors to decompose. These factors include water, which helps loosen the wood fibers, and fire, which burns wood. Other factors are air, which breaks down wood fibers, and insects like termites, which eat them.
So, wood and its by-products are eco-friendly because the wood waste will eventually break down into the earth, making it a biodegradable product.
Is Burning Wood Bad For The Environment?
As much as fire is good for aiding the decomposition of wood, it’s not necessarily good for the environment. First of all, it contributes to climate change by releasing harmful gases such as black carbon and methane into the atmosphere.
Burning wood also causes air pollution leading to health issues, reduced visibility, and foul odors. The released smoke typically contains benzene, soot, sulfur dioxide, carbon mono oxide, and volatile organic compounds, also called VOCs. All these are responsible for reducing the quality of the air we breathe.
When we burn wood on our stoves at home, they may leak out dangerous particles that pollute our enclosed spaces. This is because of the incomplete combustion of wood. As a result, harmful substances such as carbon are released.
The release of these harmful substances due to wood burning can severely affect humans and animals alike. It can cause health problems such as asthma among younger people and heart diseases among older people. It can also cause headaches, confusion, coughing, and dizziness.
Is Pine Wood Biodegradable?
Pinewood is gotten from a family of trees known as confers, which have thin and needle-like leaves. Although pine is a softwood, it’s also a solid wood, which is why it’s popularly used in manufacturing and construction. It’s known for its durability, availability, and charming appearance, as it comes in a wide range of colors.
We often use pinewood for constructing furniture, cabinets, panels, floors, roofs, and windows. We also use it to make wood veneers and plywood. Paper is also made from the pulp of pinewood.
Like any other wood, pinewood is biodegradable, so its products are too. They eventually break down and decompose back into the earth, making it better for the environment.
Is Wood Pulp Biodegradable?
Pulp is an exceptionally versatile wood product. It can be said to be one of the most versatile materials around. The diverse uses are evident in manufacturing tissues, books, baby wipes, car filters, LCD screens, and stickers. Manufacturers also use it to make food casings, cardboard, and even shoes and handbags.
Wood pulp is biodegradable, and as such, any product made from wood pulp is also biodegradable, as long as it contains no chemicals. The pulp is gotten from wood, and wood is a hundred percent recyclable and biodegradable raw material.
Is MDF Wood Biodegradable?
Medium-density fibreboard, also known as MDF, is a wood product made with wood fibers. These are a combination of leftover softwood and hardwood. It’s a cost-effective and highly durable wood option for many woodworks or carpentry projects. It’s used for making shelves, cabinets, and other decorations around the house.
As for its biodegradability, MDF is a biodegradable material. It’s made from remnants or shavings of wood that would’ve been thrown out. So, in its entirety, it’s made of wood. Since wood is biodegradable, MDF also is biodegradable.
This means that it’ll break down fast under the right conditions, especially when water touches it. It also means that it won’t take up unnecessary space in landfills or leave any toxic chemicals or substances in its wake.
Is Wood Ash Biodegradable?
Wood ash is another by-product of wood. It’s the organic or inorganic residue of all the non-flammable and non-volatile minerals left behind after wood combustion. Simply put, it’s the powdery substance you see in your fireplace after the wood burns out.
Although being a final product of the burning of wood, wood ash has a variety of uses. We can use it to melt ice, clean glass, shine silver and enrich compost. It can even be used to make soaps and is used at campsites to put out fires.
To answer the question of its biodegradability is to say yes. Wood ash is biodegradable. However, since it’s a product of one of the forms in which wood decomposes, you’ll have to add it to compost to speed up the biodegradability.
Is Sawdust a Waste?
Sawdust is a by-product of wood drilling, sanding, cutting, grinding, or pulverizing with a saw or other tools. It’s often regarded as a waste product, but there are many things you can do with sawdust, so it doesn’t go to waste.
Below are a few ideas on how to reuse sawdust:
1. Hand Cleaner
One day’s work of pulverizing wood can produce more sawdust than you can use. So, you can start by using sawdust to make a heavy-duty hand cleaner. Do this by mixing the sawdust with dish detergent or any other gentle cleanser.
This homemade cleaning paste forms a blend that works well to remove paint ad grease stains.
2. Wood Filler
You can mix sawdust and adhesives to make an excellent and cost-effective wood filler. You can then use this to fill up holes or gauges in wood. Using white glue or carpenter’s glue, apply the sawdust to the adhesive where you want to fill and mix with a putty knife. Spread the mix, dry it, and sand the patch smooth.
Sawdust can be a great source of carbon for your compost pile. It’s also a great way to balance the nitrogen from the other greens in the composting material.
Sawdust also acts as a filler that helps absorb water from rain and other moisture from the green material. This facilitates the composting process. You can use sawdust from any wood for your compost pile.
4. Blotting Material
Sawdust is excellent for cleaning up spills from the floor, and pine sawdust is one very absorptive type. It quickly absorbs grime and fine dust. So, next time you spill something on the floor, all you have to do is throw some sawdust on. Let it stay for a while, and then clean off the pile.
It even works when your animal takes a dump on your floor. Just sprinkle enough sawdust on it, let it sit for a while, and scoop it up. You can then sprinkle some more over the patch, add some liquid disinfectant and leave it for some time. Then, clean it up to reveal your floor looking as good as new.
5. Eliminate Weed Growth
Sawdust from walnut wood is a natural weed killer. Simply sweep some between cracks on your walkway or between plants in your garden, and you’d have effectively solved your weed problem.
6. Grow Mushrooms
Mushrooms are wood-loving fungi and naturally grow on cut logs and fallen trees. This is what makes sawdust a perfect growing ground for them. You must combine sawdust with organic compost and make sure the mixture is always moist.
7. Dispose Paint
It isn’t advisable to throw paint in the garbage or down the drain as it’s considered toxic waste. Instead, you’d have to take leftover paint to your local toxic waste facility.
But if you have sawdust sitting at home, all you have to do is add a generous amount to the paint can and let it sit until it hardens. You can then safely dispose of the paint in the can in the trash without worrying about contamination.
8. Make a Fire
Sawdust is a safer and more effective way to start a fire. To top off the icing, it burns faster too. Whether you have a fireplace or a fire pit, sawdust can help get the job done.
All you have to do is melt old candle wax over low heat and mix in some sawdust to solidify the mixture. Put the hot mixture in a box and leave it to cool until the next time you need to start a fire.
As we mentioned earlier, wood remains one of the most preferred materials for the construction and manufacturing of many products. As a result, it’s constantly in high demand.
The fact that it’s also biodegradable, no matter what form its by-product is in, makes it a more appealing option. Its significant components, which are its organic fibers, decompose when exposed to water, air, or insects. Finally, we believe you’re now aware that wood can cause harm to the environment when you burn it.