Two Types Of Wood And How They Affect The Density Of Paper

Lumber is harvested annually from forests. It is turned into construction materials, paper, and even personal hygiene products. What you may not know is that there are two types of wood harvested, and they both affect the density and quality of paper. Here is how wood of various kinds is turned into paper and how the two types thicken or thin paper.  


Hardwoods used for making paper include eucalyptus, birch, and aspen. When the fibers of these trees are broken down for paper, they retain some of the qualities associated with hardwoods. The paper fibers and the resulting paper products are dense, strong, absorbent and resilient. Artist's watercolor paper and thick paper towels both are made from hardwood paper pulp.


Softwoods harvested for and used in the production of paper include spruce, pine, hemlock and larch. These trees have an easily strippable bark and wood fibers that break down quickly into pulp. The resulting paper is lightweight, smooth and easily bleachable and/or easily dyed. Construction paper, colored printer paper and even tissue paper are examples of softwood paper products. Many toilet paper brands and their products utilize softwood pulp in their production line. 

Combinations of Softwood and Hardwood Pulps

When paper companies want to produce a product that is both soft and strong, they tweak the combinations of softwood pulp and hardwood pulp from all kinds of different trees. The hardwoods lend their strength and durability to combination papers such that the papers tear less, absorb more, and hold more when the products require it. By varying the percentages of hardwood pulp and softwood pulp, the paper industry can create a vast variety of products. By adding in recycled paper and/or linen/cloth fibers, companies can also create "wearable paper" garments, such as hospital gowns, disposable surgery scrubs, etc.

Rolling and Thinning Paper

To create very thin layers of paper, the papermaking industry uses softwood pulp and/or combination paper with a high concentration of softwoods. After the lumber has been turned into pulp and strained, the machines that flatten the pulp repeatedly roll over the top of the pulp until it is not only flat, but also very thin. Then the flattened and thinned paper is dried before trimmed and rolled onto a large roll and stored in a warehouse until it is shipped to another location. When the thinned paper is used in product like feminine hygiene pads, it is cut and folded over repeatedly to form the desired thickness and layers. 

For further assistance, contact a local lumber company, such as Henning Building Supply Co Inc.