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This is a result of a process that takes place mainly in Southwest Europe and Northwest Africa's
Oak forest regions. Portugal is the world’s biggest producer with just over 50% of cork produced worldwide.
It’s estimated that Oak trees would need to be around 25 to 30 years old before producing cork and that the first two cycles of cork produced are likely to be poorer quality. These cycles take place every nine years, although the trees are estimated to live up to an outstanding 300 years of age.
Using cork to make fashion products does absolutely no harm to the environment. In fact during the harvesting process, no trees are actually cut down or damaged.
The Oak trees bark is simply stripped and removed allowing the Oak tree to remain. Over time a new layer of cork regrows, thus making cork a renewable resource and an environmentally friendly material.
Versatile and unique
Cork is from the bark of the cork oak tree. It is a 100% natural plant tissue consisting of a hive of microscopic cells which contains a gas similar to air, it's mainly coated with suberin and lignin. Surprisingly, it has vast a range of attributes that no technology has yet managed to emulate, match or exceed.
It's 100% natural
Cork is a 100% natural raw material which is not something you see every day, It is 100% reusable and 100% recyclable, extracted from cork oaks without harming or damaging the tree. The extracted cork is 100% harnessed. Once processed, into stoppers for example, cork can also re-enter the production process.
Cork is resistant to wear, thanks to its honeycomb structure, which makes it less affected by impact or friction than other hard surfaces.
An outstanding figure of just over 50% of its volume is air, which makes it very light in weight. It so light that it can actually float.
Impermeable to liquids and gases
It is totally impermeable to liquids and practically impermeable to gases, thanks to the suberin and cerin present in the composition of cork cells. Its resistance to moisture allows it to grow old without deteriorating.
Elastic and compressible
It can be compressed to around half its thickness without losing any flexibility, and it decompresses, recovering into its initial shape and volume. This flexibility is due to its airtight cells containing a gas mixture similar to air. It is the only solid that when compressed on one side does not increase in volume on the other axis. It is able to adapt to variations in temperature and pressure without suffering variations, due to its elasticity.
Excellent thermal and acoustic insulator
Due to the fact that there are around 40 million cells in each cubic centimetre of cork, they act as a real decibel absorbers, making it an outstanding sound and vibration insulator. Its molecular structure allows it to absorb heat and retain it for a long periods of time.
Cork has a relatively high tolerance level towards heat. Its slow combustion makes it a natural fire retardant which acts as a barrier against fires. Cork tends to burn without a flame and does not emit toxic gases during combustion.
Anti-static and anti-allergic
Fortunately cork does not absorb any dust, which is one of the main reasons why mites start appearing, therefore it contributes to the protection against allergies and is therefore hypoallergenic.
Cork cells tend to have a pentagonal and/or hexagonal prism shape. The height of one of these tiny prisms is generally around 40 to 50 micrometres (thousandths of a millimetre). The smallest cells measure between 10 to 20 micrometres, with an average of around 40 million cells in each cubic centimetre of cork. To put it into perspective, there's approximately 795 million cells in a single cork stopper.