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NATURAL CORKS

SOURCES
2,200,000 hectares of cork forest worldwide:
33% in Portugal, and 23% in Spain.
The process of making natural cork stoppers begins
in the Montados' or cork oak (Quercus suber)
forests through Western Europe and Northern
Africa along the Mediterranean
coast.
In Portugal forests are
protected by law.


FORESTRY AND HARVESTING OF BARK

Cork harvesting is an environmentally friendly process during
which not a single tree is cut down.
A cork oak begins life as an acorn.
The tree needs a lot of light, relatively little rain.
Once the cork oak tree reaches 25 years old the bark is then
harvested once every nine years.

STRIPPING OF THE BARK
The centuries-old tradition of harvesting
requires the delicate stripping of the outer
bark by skilled workers using specialised cork
axes.
The stripping is carried out mid
May or early June until the end
of August (in spring or summer)




SEASONING AND SORTING OF BARK
The bark is stacked in piles and seasoned' for at least six
months.
Planks are stacked on concrete in the factory yard.
Planks are then sorted to select high-quality bark.
Lower grades of cork are used in other products.
BOILING AND SELECTION FOR WINE CORKS
Corkwood is boiled in closed steel tanks.
The planks are stacked and allowed to dry and stabilise.
Each plank's border is prepared.
The planks are sorted.



PUNCHING THE CORKS

The cork planks are sliced into strips
Cork punching is done by automatic machines or hand-controlled
punching machines
The corkwood left over from punching is sent for granulation.
POLISHING, SORTING AND WASHING
Using an abrasive stone, the punched corks are polished.
They are then washed in a solution of hydrogen peroxide.
The corks are dried in industrial ovens.
The moisture level is stabilised thus maximising the stopper
performance.

FINISHING THE CORK
The corks are again sorted, this time by hand.
They are branded or printed.
A thin film of paraffin wax and/or silicone is applied to each cork.
Batches of corks are packed in plastic bags with sulfur dioxide
(SO2) (a gas that blocks microbiological proliferation)

STEPS OF MAKING NATURAL CORK
BIBLIOGRAPHY
www.ilovenaturalcork.com
www.masilva.com
http://www.corkqc.com/production/production.htm
http://www.corkstore.eu/articles/
5-advantages-of-cork-stoppers