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Can Wood Melt: An Exploration of Melting Trees

Updated on July 13, 2017
Photo Credit: Gary Ertter
Photo Credit: Gary Ertter

The Wonderful World of Melting Trees, Fun Science and Amazing Nature

If you ask a child can wood melt you will get some fun answers because I asked my four year old if she thought wood could melt and she thought about it for a moment and said "only if you send it to the sun" or when asked if trees can melt she laughed and said no, but then thought for a bit more and then said "only if you put it in a huge oven."

If you ask a scientist can wood melt - you most likely will get a completely different answer (although some might still believe in the giant oven theory deep down inside)

What about if you ask an artist, or a musician or a poet have you seen a melting tree? Below I will explore many fun, scientific, artistic and visually stimulating answers to the question "Can Wood Melt" So wake up both sides of your brain and step inside the world of melting trees and liquid wood...

Can Wood Melt: A Scientific Answer

Can Wood Melt in a Vacuum?

First off in order for something to melt, its chemical makeup must stay the same as it melts. Take ice for example if you heat ice it changes to a liquid but it is still made of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen (H20). But not all materials can melt because they will burn first - like wood.

Jim Swenson a scientist at NEWTON states: "Wood is cellulose, which is a larger, longer molecule whose approximate formula is H-(HCOH)n-H. The OH's in this formula link to each other (bridging from molecule to molecule) more strongly than almost any other "functional group". These "hydrogen bonds" are weaker than the covalent bonds within each molecule, but not by a huge factor. When there are more hydrogen bonds in each molecule, it gets difficult to ever free each molecule enough to move around as they do in liquids."

Huh?

The gist of it is that the melting points in the components of wood are higher than the "burning points", and thus wood will not melt. But what if you heat wood in a vacuum where there is no oxygen to ignite into flame? When wood is heated in a vacuum it turns to carbon and carbon has the highest melting point (6300 F, 3500 C) of any element in nature, thus nothing in the Universe can hold it while you try to melt it. So simply stated wood can not be melted period!

Can Wood Melt: An Artistic Answer - I dip into my palate and imagine a melting tree

The Melting Tree and The End of The World by K. Balázs
The Melting Tree and The End of The World by K. Balázs

Ask an artist if wood can melt and your answer is quite different than a scientific one - with an overwhelming "of course it can" dripping from many a paint brush, digital print, crayon drawing or even from wood itself anything is possible - even melting trees. This wonderful melting tree image from K. Balázs in Hungary caught my eye with its amazing pensive feel. It is full of curiosity and imagination, and makes you wonder what story is about to unfold.

Ever since I ran unto this picture it has been my desktop photo - a very inspiring image to get your noggin in a creative mood.

In artist's imagination wood can certainly melt, just look below at the beautiful Melting Crimson Tree by Katherine Dinger. You'll have to click the photo to see the details up close - it is very rich and textually engaging.

Melting Crimson Tree: Katherine Dinger

Melting Crimson Tree: Katherine Dinger
Melting Crimson Tree: Katherine Dinger

Watch this artist in action below as she creates a wonderful landscape featuring none other than melting trees. In a world of your mind anything is possible. Do you believe wood can melt yet?

Can Wood Melt: An Answer from Nature - In the world of nature anything is possible

Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Visit Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Take a Angkor Temples Small-Group Tour
Take a Angkor Temples Small-Group Tour | Source

If you'd like to see these amazing trees up close and personal there are some wonderful private group tours available when you travel to the area. For example this Angkor Temples Small-Group Tour from Viator. Visit the famous jungle temple of Ta Prohm where these amazing "melting trees" grow.

Enjoy a traditional lunch in the forest, where you'll have time to relax in a hammock or play games with local village children. And of course enjoy the fascinating features of these world famous trees.

Certainly a trip to remember, and a unique experience you can tell your grandchildren about some day.

If you haven't discovered by now there is a more complex answer to the question of woods liquidity. I ask you to look around you in nature - can you find an example of the amazing nature of wood to creep and crawl around our man made structures as well as the earth itself? Take a look at these amazing trees around Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

The Spung trees seem to melt around any structure or rocky surface they meet. Part of the Tetrameles nudiflora species they are found in South and Southeast Asia and parts of Australia.

Can Wood Melt?

Now that you have explored the realm of melting trees and wood that goes slither slather what do you think about the possibility of wood melting?

Can Wood Melt?

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The Melting Wooden Landscape Grows and Grows...

There is lots more to come in the world of melting wood, please come back to discover new artists who explore melting trees, poets who incorporate melting tree images in their work and more fun images, explorations and exciting finds! Come back soon...

If you have found something interesting or unique please leave a comment - what has been your favorite melting tree?

Before You Go Leave a Quick Hello - What has been your favorite melting wood or tree?

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    • Rusty Quill profile image
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      Rusty Quill 5 years ago

      @gavin-harris-904: Yes, the scientific debate is interesting to follow with many proposing theoretical possibilities to find out if wood would melt under any circumstances. However if we are talking about melting wood in a vacuum and it turns to carbon first it isn't really the wood melting now it is the carbon. So is there any possible way wood can be melted - theoretically? :)

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      On the canvas anything is possible. This was a fun and stimulating lens and love those photos from Cambodia.

    • profile image

      gavin-harris-904 5 years ago

      The scientific answer is partialy correct, but there is the fact that in a vacuum, heat does not transfer, as well as the fact that if it was in a carbon oven, and you applied the heat using radiation such as lasers, the heat would only be slowly transferred to the oven, and therefore the wood would melt before the oven. its all theoretical of course.

    • Rusty Quill profile image
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      Rusty Quill 5 years ago

      @flycatcherrr: Thanks flycatcher, glad I could give you a mind opening challenge.. I'll be here just in case something falls out. :)

    • Rusty Quill profile image
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      Rusty Quill 5 years ago

      @tvyps: Thanks so much for the blessing. :) Maybe if you took your fireplace to Wonderland your wood would melt too...

    • Rusty Quill profile image
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      Rusty Quill 5 years ago

      @NC Shepherd: I agree, that's the best way to look at the world. I think anything is possible - just think it wasn't too long ago that scientists thought the world was flat... :)

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      There may have been some melting trees in Alice in Wonderland, but based on my old fireplace experience, I just see burning of the embers! Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Fabulous! I've never seen a melting tree (not when awake, anyhow) but you've opened my mind and eyes to the possibilities.

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      NC Shepherd 5 years ago

      I really like this lens. It presents the scientific fact, while being open-minded enough to appreciate the art and fantasy. That's kinda the way I look at the world.