Wood is a natural, organic matter that is not free from imperfections and most importantly, is not homogeneous in its structure. Contrary to common materials such as plastics and metal, wood can alter its shape, its look and its finish even after it has been cut, dried, shaped and finalised as ready to use product.
Wood is a hygroscopic material, which put simply, means it easily absorbs moisture. Wood cells fit together like groups of straws or thin pipes. The cell wall naturally contains a small amount of moisture, and the “hollow” part of the cell also has room to hold and release moisture. While a tree is growing, this cell interior conducts water and nutrients from the roots to the various parts of the tree. Once a tree has been cut, the “green” lumber is kiln-dried to remove the bulk of that mobile moisture before the lumber is manufactured into various wood products.
The structure of the cell however remains the same, with room to absorb and release moisture from its surroundings. That moisture very often comes from water in the atmosphere (relative humidity), and it is crucial to note that there is a continuous interaction between wood and its environment.
The structure of the cells of the wood combined with accidental or constant exposure to levels of high or low humidity in the air can cause two very common cases:
- expansion and shrinkage of the wood
- raising the grain of the wood
Expansion and Shrinkage
Fluctuation in air humidity is very common when seasons change - dry/wet, or in our case when wood is transported from one part of the world to another. Moisture being released from or absorbed by the wood is what may create the change in the shape or size.
Wood may feel rough as a result of exposure to high levels of humidity. The term is commonly known as Grain Raising. Grain Raising is the outcome of the interaction of the cell structure of the wood with the air humidity.
To avoid grain raising, and to "seal" the wood, many crafters apply organic finishes such as beeswax, olive oil, etc on untreated wood. That is why we apply our very own handmade noc noc Organic Balm to all our wooden pieces.
I wet my teether and now it feels rough. Is there a fix for this?
Absolutely, your teether is easily brought back to life in a few simple steps!
If your teether has gotten wet (intentionally or not), it may have a rough texture as the grain of the wood has been raised by the moisture. You can either leave it like this (not so good for baby gums), or you can go over it with a high-grit sanding paper or sponge (we use and recommend 3M SandBlaster Sponge - 320 Grit Fine) and then reseal it with our noc noc Organic Balm. Your teething toy will be as smooth and calming as if new.