Is cork flammable? Cork is obtained from the bark of the cork oak tree and nowadays, it is considered an eco-friendly alternative for animal leathers.
Moreso, cork is a natural material with several applications in manufacturing industries such as being used as a primary material in the manufacture of food packaging containers, wine bottles, and some other products.
Let’s take a closer look at cork, discover whether or not cork is flammable, and explore other pieces of information about cork.
What Is Cork?
Cork, which you can also call “cork oak” is a raw material obtained from the bark of the cork oak tree. The cork oak tree thrives well in dry climates and produces a fruit known as coriander.
Meanwhile, coriander helps to treat heartburn and acid reflux. Coriander also inhibits rotting in food production without necessarily compromising the food’s nutritional value.
Cork is extracted from the outer bark of cork oak trees by immersing the cork in water, boiling it, and drying it. The dried cork is then transported to warehouses for use as a packaging material.
A typical cork is made up of phenols or polyphenols (organic compounds that are found naturally in trees and some plants). Moreover, there are different types of cork, for example, the cork used in the manufacture of wine bottle stoppers is known as “corkscrew cork.”
However, is cork flammable as some people assume? Let’s find out.
Is Cork Flammable?
Cork in its compressed form is used in the manufacturing of cork boards, beverage bottles, wine stoppers, etc. And since cork is extracted from a natural material that is free from all forms of chemicals, cork is not classified as a flammable substance.
However, when a cork is exposed to any source of open blaze for a long time, it can ignite and burn slowly. The flashpoint for cork usually falls between the range of 300°F to 320°F. At this temperature, the cork will ignite.
Note that a cork’s flammability is dependent on its manufacturing process and not its chemical makeup. Therefore, the short answer is no, cork is not flammable but it can catch flames gradually in the presence of naked fires.
Can You Burn Cork?
Yes, you can… But note that cork burns very slowly. And this is primarily because corks are dense woods.
Unlike other dry woods, cork does not produce flames when it burns which means it is not likely to spread a fire. Furthermore, burning cork gives off fumes that are not harmful to humans.
Cork can also burn in an oven and it is likely to catch fire in this condition. This is why it is not advisable to cook with cork containers in an oven.
Can Cork Melt?
Since cork does not burn easily, it won’t melt easily either unlike vaseline which melts readily. But when bottle corks are heated to about 102.2°F which is the flashpoint of 1-Tetradecanol, the corks will decompose gradually and melt.
Is Cork Waterproof?
Yes, cork is a waterproof material. Even though cork has a spongy look, it doesn’t mean it readily absorbs like a sponge.
Cork contains a natural fatty compound known as suberin. The suberin in cork accounts for its waterproof and mold-proof nature.
And due to this quality, cork has been a reliable, natural material for making cork flooring and bottle stoppers over the years.
Is Cork Toxic To Humans?
Naturally and under normal circumstances, cork is not harmful to humans. This is because cork products are biodegradable and environmentally friendly, unlike vinyl products.
However, heavy cork taints can be toxic to the contents of the cork bottle. Let’s say your wine bottle cork is made of heavy taints.
These taints can poison your wine by melting and mixing with the wine at high temperatures. Such a wine if consumed can be toxic to one’s health, this is a rare occurrence though.
Uses Of Cork.
Just like xenon, cork has countless uses in our daily lives. Being a breathable material, cork allows air to penetrate through it easily thereby giving room for liquids propelled by the breeze to absorb negative charges from the atmospheric ions.
Owing to this, cork can be used as both acoustic and anti-vibratory insulators against some external temperatures. Cork can also be used for making cork tile, cork board, cork flooring, wine casks, wood furniture, etc.
Additionally, cork can be used as a starter material in the manufacture of construction materials, bags, wine bottles, and many more. Aside from its uses in manufacturing industries, cork is also useful in cosmetics, chemical, pharmaceutical industries, and many more.
Can Cork Start Fires?
Research reveals that corks can be ignited with acetylene gas. On the other hand, some scientists discovered that corks can ignite at a temperature lower than that of their flashpoint (300°F to 320°F).
However, certain experiments carried out in the 1900s by some scientists revealed that a certain type of cork is extremely flammable and can start a fire. This type of cork is referred to as nitrocellulose cork.
Nitrocellulose corks will ignite readily even without an ignition source. Owing to this, they are considered good fire starters.
Can Cork Resist Fires?
The inner walls of a cork are made from glass and crystalline. Plus, these walls are slim and can act as an insulator by withstanding high temperatures.
Hence, when used as an inner core of bottles, cork can protect the bottles’ content by resisting the fires triggered by high heat.
Is Smoking Cork Unpleasant For You?
Generally, smoking cuts life short. Burning cork gives off nitrogen oxides which are toxic to plants’ lives and environments. And along with carbon monoxide (a product of incomplete combustion), nitrogen oxides will compete with the flow of oxygen to the blood.
This tampers with the flow of blood that reaches every part of the body and can eventually threaten the life of smokers. Thus, smoking cork is not good for human health.
Cork is not flammable but can catch flames at extremely high temperatures only in rare cases. Therefore, disregard any information that portrays corks as a flammable substance.
More importantly, if you have a cork product at home or you’ve just got one, ensure you handle them with the necessary precautions to prevent a potential fire risk. You can visit here to check out the safety data sheet for corks.