We get a lot more from trees than wood and paper!
Did you know that trees provide us with more than 5,000 products that people use every day?
It’s true! From photographic film to paints and from toothpaste to tires, tree-based chemicals and other wood by-products are all around us.
Wood resin is one of many tree-based chemicals. In nature, resin is the goop that forms a protective coating around a plant wound. It creates a hard coating that microorganisms and insects can’t penetrate. People gather the resin of pine trees and use it in many ways. We’ve even classified resin into three categories: hard resins, oleoresins, and gum resins.
- Rosin is the most important of the hard resins. It is used in paint, varnishes, and in soapmaking. Rosin also is used to make the bows of stringed instruments sticky so they produce more beautiful music. And rosin is used by ballplayers to give them a better grip on balls and bats.
- Turpentine is the most widely used oleoresin. It is a solvent — meaning that it dissolves other substances — that is used in paint, varnish, waterproofing, and shoe polish.
- Gum Resins are used to make other chemical products.
Waiter! There’s a tree in my Twinkie®!
There are tree-based chemicals in many of our food and beverage products! Some of these chemicals are used as flavorings, while others keep the ingredients in food from separating. There’s even a tree-based chemical that makes bubble gum chewier!
Cellulose, the material that makes up the walls of tree cells, is used as a food thickener in such tasty treats as snack food, milk shakes, ice cream, cake frosting, and pancake syrup!
Cellulose also is an important ingredient in non-edible products such as eyeglass frames, steering wheels, hairbrush handles, cellophane, and photographic film!