Balsa wood is one of the most fascinating types of woods thanks to the attributes that it possesses. It normally grows on high ground in Central America, as well as some areas of South America. Balsa wood has many advantages that the majority of other types of wood cannot provide.
Most trees can take decades to grow and reach an adult size. Balsa wood trees, on the other hand, grow extremely rapidly. As little as 6 months after germinating, a balsa wood tree can be up to 12 feet tall. They can completely mature in as little as six years, reaching heights of up to 90 feet. This is the prime time for harvesting balsa wood as the tree can continue growing—which can lead to the centre rotting, making the wood less useful. The rapid growing time allows a continuous influx of balsa wood to keep up with economical demands.
The most notable aspect about balsa wood is its weight. Balsa wood is extremely light when compared to the majority of other wood types, such as oak, spruce or pine. Balsa wood has cells that are extremely thin-walled and large. Lignin, the microscopic material that holds most woods together, is relatively sparse in balsa wood. Roughly 40 per cent of balsa wood is solid substance. The weight and design make it a popular wood for hobbyists, as they can carve, alter and carry it with ease.
Most wood is strengthened by lignin; however, balsa wood lacks this material and instead contains lots of water within its structure. Water weight in green balsa wood can be as much as five times the weight of the actual wood.
Balsa wood is kiln dried to ensure that all water is removed; the process takes an estimated two weeks and also gets rid of any bacteria that might be present. Dried balsa wood is easily breakable by hand and can be manipulated and carved with simple tools. Although it is less strong compared to other types of woods--and therefore more easy to alter--balsa wood is much more durable and stronger than other materials of similar density and weight.