Harvested every nine years, without any tree being felled during the process, cork gives rise to an endless array of products, from the traditional to the most innovative and unexpected. The main product is the cork stopper, but not all cork qualifies to be transformed into that noble object.
One of Nature's most extraordinary materialsWHY CORK?
Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus suber L.).
100 percent natural, reusable and recyclable, cork is, whether from the environmental, social or economic perspectives, one of the world’s most versatile materials.
It takes each cork oak 25 years before it can be stripped for the first time and it is only from the third stripping (at 43 years of age) that the cork, then known as «amadia», has the high standard of quality required for producing cork stoppers. The first two harvests – the «virgin» cork and «secundeira» cork –, as well as that removed from the base of the tree, becomes the raw material for insulation, flooring and products for areas as diverse as construction, fashion, design, health, energy production and the aerospace industry.
The cork tree thoroughly develops the bark over the years. And man develops a refined technique for harvesting it. The cork is harvested by specialized professionals, always between May and August, when the tree is at its most active phase of growth and it is easier to strip without damaging the trunk. The cork oak is the only tree whose bark regenerates, acquiring a smoother texture following each harvest. Over the course of its lifetime, which on average lasts 200 years, it may be stripped around 17 times.
The wise hands that plant the trees of the cork oak forest are the same ones that skilfully strip the bark every year. Removing the bark from each cork oak.
Excellent Acoustic Insulation
Cork has low conductivity to noise and vibration. This is because the gaseous components contained in cork are enclosed in small impermeable compartments, isolated from each other by a moisture-resistant substance.
Excellent Thermal Insulation
The air inside the cells makes it an excellent insulator, leading to very low thermal conductivity, over a wide range of temperatures.
Excellent Resistance to Fire and High Temperatures
Cork is also a natural fire retardant: it burns without a flame and does not emit toxic gases during combustion.
Excellent Elasticity and Compressibility
It is the only solid which, when compressed on one side, does not increase in volume on another; and as a result of its elasticity it is able to adapt, for example, to variations in temperature and pressure without suffering alterations.
Extremely Light and Buoyant
Over 50% of its volume is air, which makes it very light - it weighs just 0.16 grams per cubic centimetre and can float.
Because cork does not absorb dust, it helps protect against allergies and does not pose a risk to asthma sufferers.
Impermeable to Liquids and Gases
Thanks to the suberin and ceroids contained in the cell walls, cork is practically impermeable to liquids and gases. Its resistance to moisture enables it to age without deteriorating.
High Friction Resistance and Good Resilience
Cork is extremely resistant to abrasion and has a high friction coefficient. Thanks to its honeycomb structure, its resistance to impact or friction is greater than that of other hard surfaces.
Comfortable and Warm Feeling
The natural texture of cork combines softness and flexibility to the touch with a naturally uneven surface. The variable degree of irregularity is given by the type of cork used and the finish chosen.