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What is petrified wood?

Petrified wood is a special type of fossilized remains of million year old plants, trees and vegetation.The term petrified is derived from the Latin word petro meaning ‘rock’ or ‘stone’ so petrified wood is literally ‘wood turned into stone’. It is the end result of pre-historic trees having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization . All the organic materials in the tree tissue, has been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), but the original structure of the stem tissue is maintained. Unlike other types of fossils which are typically impressions or compressions, petrified fossil is a three-dimensional representation of the original organic material.

Does petrified wood have any value? How much is petrified wood worth?

Petrified wood is found in many parts of the world where forests have been preserved. But every type of petrified wood does not command the same value. Most petrified wood has very little monetary value. It depends on the pristine nature in which the wood has been preserved. A tree slab which shows the inner structure of the wood clearly through the stone is more valuable than the tree-stone which is cloudy and solid. Once sourced, the petrified wood has to be polished by hand so the internal structure of the wood-stone becomes visible. In the case of most petrified wood slabs and petrified wood stumps sold commercially, the cost is mostly determined by the polishing which is a very labor intensive process, not the raw material itself.

How does petrified wood form? How is petrified wood made?

Petrified wood is a fossil. Millions of years ago prehistoric trees were rapidly buried by sediment and protected from decay. Then, groundwater rich in dissolved solids flows through the sediment, replacing the original plant material with silica, calcite, pyrite, or other inorganic material such as opal in a process called permineralization. This process is slow and lasts for milleniums during which the organic remains is replaced by minerals and then replaced with stone. For this to happen the wood needs to be buried in an environment both low in oxygen (preventing decomposition) and with flowing mineral laden water..The result is a fossilized plant of the original woody material that often exhibits preserved details of the bark, wood, and cellular structures. Structures such as tree rings and the various tissues are often observed features. This petrification process generally results in a quartz chalcedony mineralization. The mineral silica, from volcanic ash, in various stages of crystallization replaced most of the organic wood. Minor minerals, such as iron, manganese, and carbon add the rainbow of colors.

What does petrified wood mean?

Petrified wood (from the Greek root petro meaning “rock” or “stone”; literally “wood turned into stone”) is defined as the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. This process is slow and lasts for milleniums during which the organic remains is replaced by minerals and then replaced with stone. Structures such as tree rings and the various tissues are often observed features. This petrification process generally results in a quartz chalcedony mineralization.

What does petrified mean?

The term petrified is derived from the Latin word petro meaning "rock" or "stone" so petrified wood is literally "wood turned into stone".

How old is petrified wood?

Petrified wood stone from different parts of the world can be 450 million years to 20 million years old. The petrified wood from Arizona is 214 million years old while the Indonesian petrified wood is about 20 million years old.

Where is petrified wood found?

Petrified wood can be found all over the world in many locations including Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Washington and Madagascar, Egypt, Bolivia, Canada, Indonesia. In some countries, petrified wood can be found in large quantities, made up of large pieces which are brightly coloured. Top quality pieces are to be found in Indonesia, USA, Madagascar and Brazil. . In most countries the pieces are small and the coloration tends to be bland.

There are known "petrified forests", where tourists can explore. It is strictly forbidden to remove petrified wood from these locations. Well known petrified forest are located on the island of Lesbos, in Greece, and in Arizona, USA.

Petrified wood in Indonesia is often hidden deep under ground. When a farmer is plowing his land, he can sometimes unearth a piece of petrified wood. Experts are then called in to examine the piece to determine if it is worth excavating. If they are found to be valuable, they are sold to companies who clean, cut and generally process the piece into polished petrified wood.

How does petrified wood from different regions look different ?

 

Petrified wood has been found in many locations including Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Washington and Madagascar, Indonesia, Bolivia, Egypt, Canada. There are many reasons why petrified wood from different areas of the world looks different depending on the nature of the source trees, the age of the wood-stone and the nature of the surrounding material or matrix rock. The source trees in Indonesian petrified wood is teak wood while the Arizona petrified wood is from coniferous trees. Petrified wood is known for its exquisite color and detail. Some pieces of petrified wood have retained the original cellular structure of the wood and the grain can easily be seen. Internal structures such as tree rings and wood grains can often be seen in petrified wood but evergreen trees do not exhibit cellular growth rings as they do not have growth seasons.

Petrified wood gets it’s often brilliant coloration from the different minerals that replace the organic material. Reds/browns/yellows often come from iron oxides, pinks/oranges from manganese, greens from copper, etc.

The beauty of any piece of petrified wood depends very largely upon the way it is polished as the polishing allows for the inner structures of the fossilized wood to be more easily seen. Often petrified wood preserves the trace fossils of other animals such as insect borings and sometime even the scars of ancient forest fires.

Is petrified wood heavy?
Petrified wood is mostly silica quartz. The logs are very hard (7.8 on the 1-10 Mohs hardness scale!) and heavy. You would be very surprised at how heavy the wood-stone actually is. A wood stool of 18 inches x 15 inches x20 inches is nearly 330 lbs or 150 kgs heavy.
Is petrified wood a gem?

Petrified wood is basically fossilized wood that has had its organic matter replaced by stone, bit by bit, as it decomposes. The wood structure is maintained, but the wood fibers or tissues are slowly changed into stone. Sometimes a jasper, quartz, pyrite or even opal can be found fossilized in wood. Technically any Organic materials that have been mineralized to gemstones including petrified wood is an Organic Gem. Opalized petrified wood is also found.

Can petrified wood burn?

Petrified wood is no longer wood but has transitioned to stone , hence it cannot burn in a campfire or a fireplace like a normal hunk of dead pine tree.

How old is petrified wood from Indonesia?

The Indonesian petrified wood or petrified rock typically comes from the Miocene era. This means that the trees are about 20 million years old. The petrified wood from Arizona and Madagascar is much older.

What causes the colors in petrified wood?

During the petrification process the surrounding material, water, mud, dissolved soil flushes into the wood decomposing the organic material and plant tissues. Minerals such as manganese, iron, and copper dissolved in the water/mud during the petrification process become a part of the matrix. These minerals give petrified tree wood a variety of color ranging from greens, yellows, blues and reds depending on the composition of the surrounding mineral profile.

It is not wood that makes petrified wood colorful, but the chemistry of the petrifying groundwater. Quartz crystals are colorless, but when iron is added to the process the crystals become stained with a yellow or red.

Following is a list of minerals and related color hues:

Copper - green/blue

Cobalt - green/blue

Chromium - green/blue

Manganese - pink

Carbon - black

Iron Oxides - red, brown, yellow

Manganese Oxides - black

Silica - white, grey

What are some species of petrified trees?

The petrified wood from Indonesia consists almost exclusively of the species Dipterocarpus. This deciduous species still exists, and is common in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. Petrified Palm trees are also found. The trees from Arizona and Madagascar are Araucaria. There are also other petrified trees available.

How old is petrified wood? How long does it take for wood to petrify?

The Indonesian petrified wood typically comes from the Miocene era. This means that the trees are about 20 million years old. There were no humans alive, and dinosaurs became extinct about 45 years ago, as a comparison. The petrified wood from Arizona and Madagascar is much older. Approximately 225 million years old.

Is it legal to import petrified wood?

The simple answer is yes it is. In Indonesia petrified wood forests, collecting petrified wood has become a cottage industry, enabling many people to earn their living by excavating petrified wood, transporting and processing it. Petrified wood is still not classified as a precious material, but it is not known how long it will be allowed to be freely traded.

Is it difficult to buy petrified wood?

It is not particularly difficult to find petrified wood, but it is a challenge to locate beautiful pieces..

How hard is petrified wood?

The “Mohs” hardness scale, runs from 1 to 10. Chalk has a hardness of 1. A diamond is 10 on the scale. Petrified wood is an average of 7. Granite also is 7 on the scale. Belgian marble is 3, and limestone 4. Petrified wood is a not a suitable material for sculptors, due to its hardness.

How is petrified wood modified into furniture?

The best way of using petrified wood is to preserve the organic shape and natural curves and lines. We recommend slabs and stools cut from the mother stone. Using conventional grinders petrified wood can be cut, shaped and polished. When polished, wonderful colors emerge. It can be cut into slices. Larger pieces up to 3 meters in diameter, are the organic share and cut using a wire saw. Cutting and polishing is a very time consuming task which requires craftsmanship. The best and genuine petrified wood-stone can be used with metal base or legs to make a lovely dining table, petrified wood table, coffee table, petrified wood countertops stands, stools or pillars. Smaller items like petrified wood bookends, petrified wood jewelry are also made form chips and flakes.

Petrified wood is very heavy but highly brittle, cracking at pressure. Real petrified wood does not get sculpted into complex shapes. If you find a petrified wood elephant shaped model or a Buddha shaped hand, you can be sure it has not been made out of real petrified wood.

How big can a piece of petrified wood be?

The biggest piece of petrified wood that we ourselves have ever seen was the cross section of a huge trunk of teak wood cut into a slab for dining table. The average weight is about 160-200 pounds per cubic foot.

How is petrified wood shipped?

The petrified wood is well packed in strong timber crates, then placed into a shipping container.

Is petrified wood good for anything?

It is used as a semi-precious gemstone in jewelry and spiritual healing. You can buy petrified wood in the form of ornamental stone in book ends, clocks, furniture, etc. Petrified wood is valuable scientifically as fossils from around the world.

Why are some table tops light in colour, while others are quite dark?

Trees that have been standing close to a river, are usually lighter in colour than trees have lived on the slopes of a dry mountain.

Why is it that the edge of the table top has a very light colour, compared to the inside of the tree?

The outer, light-colored edge is called sapwood. ‘Sapwood is the younger, outermost wood; in the growing tree it is living wood, and its principal functions are to conduct water from the roots to the leaves and to store up and give back according to the season the reserves prepared in the leaves. Since it is a younger tissue it retains a lighter color than the inner already dead hardened tissue at the center of the tree trunk.

What are the advantages or benefits of petrified wood furniture? Why has petrified wood furniture become so popular?

Petrified Wood has become extremely popular because it adds natural beauty to your interiors. It looks like wood but with the feel of stone. Petrified wood is amongst the world’s most environment friendly resources to harvest and use, promoting a sustainable and green lifestyle. The rarity of petrified wood, its eye-catching beauty, its durability and aesthetic appeal make it an absolute delight.

Here are the key advantages of using petrified wood furniture -

  • Durability: Petrified wood has lasted millions of years and will outlast every other furniture you can compare it with. Short of taking a pickaxe to it there is really nothing you can do to break or stain the petrified wood-stone. It can withstand changes from humid to dry air and variations in temperature.
  • Heirloom item: A petrified wood stool can very well be an heirloom item ready to be handed down to the future generations.
  • Every piece is unique: No two pieces of petrified wood furniture are alike. Designers & decorators use petrified wood home decor in innovative designs in to promote an exclusive look. Modish Store stocks and sells petrified wood tables, stools platters abd bookends to match your taste and style.
  • Craftsmanship: The polish on the petrified wood determines how the beauty of the petrified wood is showcased.
How durable is petrified wood?

Petrified wood furniture is very durable and it easily withstands everyday use and is more resistant to damage than typical hardwoods. Most petrified wood undergo a manual polish process, which adds to their strength and hardness.

Here are some petrified wood properties to know when shopping for petrified wood furniture -

Till very recently petrified furniture was only featured in hi-luxury homes of film stars and exclusive hotels. But now it has become available thanks to the spread of e-commerce and successful international sourcing. Its popularity is closely linked to the growing trend towards green and sustainable lifestyles. Many people adopt sustainable products because they are concerned about the environment and want to play their small part in promoting it and advocating it further to friends and family.

Petrified wood furniture is available in stools, stumps and slab form. These can be transformed into tables of different size, petrified wood coffee tables, petrified wood side tables and petrified wood stump, petrified wood stools, petrified wood bowl petrified wood slice, petrified wood slabs for sale.

While buying authentic petrified wood furniture, first make sure it has been harvested in a responsible and sustainable manner. Modish Store sources its petrified wood from teak forests of Indonesia which is certified as harvested in a sustainable process. Avoid a look alike product. Real petrified wood cannot be moulded into complex shapes. At best it can be cut into slabs or stools. Suspect any petrified wood sculpted into complex structures.

Petrified wood can be kept indoors and outdoors but we recommend keeping it indoors because the polish over the wood-stone can get affected. The manual polish over the stone is the real craftsmanship on the organic material. The polish determines how beautifully the structure of the wood-stone is showcased. You can use it in balconies, verandahs and patios - if that’s the likely scenario, make sure the bamboo you buy has a protective coating of polyurethane sealant to prolong its life.

Authentic petrified wood is usually made by souced by wood collecting communities and polished by artisans from small villages, where their communities have been making it for generations. Hence check for the manufacturing origin of the product you are buying.

Petrified wood furniture is sturdy and durable, but it requires cleaning, rubbing and occasional washing with mild soap solution. Bear this in mind while selecting petrified wood items for your home.



  • For general clean up, use warm water and soft jersey or microfiber cloth to clean the surface. For stubborn surface soils or stains, use a mild household cleaner or ph neutral product (containing no abrasives, chlorines/bleach, or ammoniums). A commercially available all-purpose / all-surface cleaner such as Pledge multi surface everyday cleaner is appropriate. If products containing antibacterial or disinfectant agents are used, always test an inconspicuous area of the piece to ensure your cleaner is compatible with the finish. Always remove cleaning agent residue with a clean water rinse immediately; then dry. Do not allow large standing water drops to air dry, or temporary water spotting may occur. Stone products such as table tops or countertops can be maintained with a high quality stone sealer if desired.
  • Caution: never use hot water or caustic chemicals containing Chlorine, solvents, ammonium, vinegar or adhesive removers to clean petrified wood product. Do not use abrasive cleaning products like scotch-brite pads, stiff bristle brushes, steel wool or scrapers to clean the finish of your piece.