Wood In Unexpected Places

Everybody knows that paper is made out of wood. We all watched the same video in elementary school science class. I even went on a field trip to the paper factory and they let me keep some paper that was made right there in front of me. It did not fit in the printer, and we had to get a new printer… but that is beside the point. Now you can find wood in all sorts of things, and not just wood that you can see like these wireless chargers made out of wood and resin… but I’m talking the stuff you didn’t even know!

ICE CREAM: That’s right! Ice cream has wood in it. Well, kind of. It might not have wood per se, but what it does have in it is cellulose which is what cell walls in wood are made out of. In ice cream it is used as a thickener and stabilizer to help ice cream keep its shape.

INK: Some ink is made out of tall oil rosin from hard pines (or the subgenus Pinus). Wood also produces many types of oils and rosins… some of which are modeling to make that wireless charger as well. Synthetic epoxys like the one used in that charger also comes from trees as a sap that hardens.

CHEWING GUM: Speaking of resins, chewing gum is actually made out of chemicals like rosin esters, which is a resin that you can get from pine trees. Not only is the wood useful, but the stuff that the tree creates. Resin is an incredible liquid that becomes a solid that can’t be broken down by water… which is why we have found intact prehistoric insects encased in this impressive substance.

CIGARETTE FILTERS: Although tobacco is not wood, it is a plant so maybe it kind of counts, but the more important connection here is the cellulose acetate fibers used to make the filter. These fibers are actually one of the earlier synthetic fibers ever based on wood pulp cellulose.

PAINT: You may notice a trend here… that the word cellulose comes up pretty frequently, and that is because this material is so useful in so many ways. In paint, it comes to us in the form of hydroxyethyl cellulose and primarily works as a gelling and thickening agent for the paint. If we didn’t have wood, the paint would be runny and most likely not actually applicable in any useful way.

DORITOS: Last, but certainly not least, Doritos actually use smoke flavoring made out of refined and completely liquified lumber mill sawdust. That’s right, the thing that makes Doritos so delicious is sawdust… imagine that! Maybe that gives you a bit of a window into weather or not Doritos can really be considered food. And don’t get me wrong, delicious… but not food.

That oughta give you something to think about for now. You never know the ingredients that go into the most common household items. It can be really fun to go through and google everything you don’t know in the ingredients list of any item to get an idea of where it comes from? If it has the word cellulose in it… it might be wood!