History of Cork

"Cork is the bark of cork oak (Quercus Suber L), a noble tree with very special characteristics that grows in Mediterranean regions such as Spain, Italy, France, Morocco, Algeria, and especially Portugal, where there are more than 720 000 hectares of cork oak forests, as well as a cork industry of great economic importance. It is an astonishing tree of great longevity and a great capacity for regeneration. It can live on average 150 to 200 years, despite the many harvests that make throughout his life: about 16 interspersed with periods of nine years. This plant tissue which is harvested as carefully - cork - has unique qualities, unique and to date no human ingenuity could mimic or exceed: 1. very light 2. impermeable to liquids and gases 3. elastic and compressible 4. an excellent thermal and acoustic 5. Smouldering 6. very resistant to abrasion But it is, above all, one hundred percent natural materials, recyclable and biodegradable, essential qualities in a society like the current you want less polluted and environmentally friendly. Despite its many uses, for centuries the most faithful ambassador of cork stoppers in the world is natural, this seal of exceptional quality still preferred and demanded by the major wine producers. But throughout history, there are many references to this product and its varied applications. In 3000 BC, the cork has been in use in China, Egypt, Babylon and Persia for the manufacture of fishing tackle. In Italy we found remains dating from the fourth century BC, include artefacts such as floats, stoppers for casks, women's shoes and roofing materials. It is also this time we have one of the first references to the cork oak, by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus, in his botanical treatises, he says, amazed, "the faculty that this tree has to renew its bark after it is removed." Even in the Roman Empire 44 a. C, the troops were the shields of protection in Cork due to its strength and lightness of this wonderful natural product. Portugal can boast of having been a pioneer in environmental legislation, as the early agrarian laws protecting cork forests appear at the beginning of the thirteenth century, in 1209. Later, during the Discoveries, the builders of ships and Portuguese caravels that set out to discover new worlds used oak wood in the manufacture of parts exposed to the elements. They argued that the "thrash" as it was then called, was what was best for the bond of the ships, as well as strong, it never rotted. The life cycle of the cork as a raw material begins with the extraction of the cork bark, called stripping, which takes place during the most active growth of the cork, between mid-May or early June to late August. But few know that it takes 25 years until the trunk of a cork oak begins to produce and be profitable. Each trunk has to reach a circumference of about 70 cm when measured at 1.5 meters from the ground. Since then, its operation will last 150 years on average. The first stripping, Desbois the call, you get a cork very irregular structure with a hardness that makes it difficult to work. It's called virgin cork to be used in applications other than corks (flooring, insulation etc.), because it is far from presenting the quality needed for this purpose. Nine years later, the second harvest, we obtain a material with a regular structure, less hard, but still not suitable for the manufacture of corks and so- called secondary cork. It is only in the third and subsequent harvests, you get the cork with the appropriate properties for the production of cork stoppers and discs of quality, since it already has a regular structure with smooth back and tummy. It's called cork amadia or reproduction. From this point, the cork will provide, for nine years, cork with good quality for about a century and a half, producing an average of 15 to 16 harvests throughout his life. But how do you take off the cork tree? The stripping of the cork oak is an ancient process that can only be done by specialists, the debarkers as not to harm the tree, it should be much manual skill and experience. And it consists of five steps: First strike is the cork in the vertical direction, choosing the deepest crack the shell. At the same time, twist the ax to separate the inner bark. Then separate the board with the introduction of the hatchet between the board and the inner bark of belly. Then, you run a twisting movement of the hatchet between the trunk and the cork strip to be separate. With a horizontal cut defines the size of the board of cork is removed and what the tree. Board is then carefully removed from the tree not to leave. The larger planks extracted, the greater its market value. It is the skill of debarkers that allows to obtain the entire board. Withdrawal first board, these operations are repeated for the whole trunk. After extraction of the boards, remains adherent fragments of cork at the base of the trunk. To remove any parasites that exist in cork shims, the harvesting gives a few blows with the ax. Finally, mark up the tree, using the last number of years in which the extraction took place. So we could say that you could already make the discs called the magnificent flower to fishing rods, but there is still a long way before it can make that object. After removal of the mortar so desired, the cork planks are stacked or the forest or on construction sites within the premises of a factory. There they remain exposed outdoors, the sun and rain. However, all batteries are constructed taking into account its own rules and very strict in order to allow the stabilization of the cork. They must be stacked on materials that do not contaminate the cork and prevent contact with soil. Wood, for example, is expressly prohibited because it can transmit fungi. During this period of rest gives the maturation of the raw material and cork stabilizes. Since this period of rest of the boards of no less than six months. After six months of stabilization of the cork, this is cooked in boiling water for one hour, and after boiling the cork back to rest for 3 weeks to get the consistency needed for its transformation into stoppers, discs, skin, etc.. It is never too often repeated that the cork is a natural, recyclable and reusable. To take advantage of and preserve this valuable resource, a growing number of countries have made efforts to carry out recycling initiatives in order to raise awareness among local people for the wealth of material. Although recycled cork is never reused to produce corks for wines or disks for fishing rods, there are many other possible alternative applications. For example, bulletin boards, bookmarks, coasters, flooring or insulation material. So my friends or Rodmakers Rodbuilders never forget that each cork disc they pass through the hands are the fruit of a tree with a minimum of 50 years, and that the cork disc has 9 years of growth."

Information collected from government sources and industry of cork




Copyright © 2012, designed by CĂ©lia Cardoso