The cork can first be harvested when a tree is about 25 years old. By harvesting, we mean removing the bark from the tree. This ‘peeling’ is done in Portugal by specialists knowns as the ‘tiradors’.
Peeling is precise work because it is important not to damage the flow of sap from the tree. After the bark is removed, the tree removes up to five times more CO2 from the air than before the peeling process.
This first peeling of the oak produces ‘virgin cork’ called desboia in Portuguese. This cork cannot be used for the production of the best quality wine corks or other refined materials.
Nine years after the first harvest, the bark is removed from the tree for a second time. After being dried and boiled, the light bark on the inside is mainly used to make stoppers for wine. It takes another nine years for the cork to reach wine cork quality – a long-term project.
After harvesting the cork, the excess trimmings, the grey outer layer of the bark, and the virgin cork are all collected and ground into tiny pieces.
And this the moment that Kurkasa really looks forward to.
Steam passed through the resin (suberine) at a temperature of around 380°C causes it to become liquid again. All the coarse grains then blend with the natural glue creating a new material which can be used for many different purposes.
The expanded cork, as it is called after this process, is still too coarse to use to make anything delicate. As we are not manufacturing, Pro Suber has selected the finest cork and developed a process which improves the quality of the expanded cork. This material is ideal for making amazing, sustainable, and ecological products.
No chemical agglomerates are used and no glue is added.
The resin produced by the oak itself is the natural binder which keeps everything together. That is what explains the exceptional charm of this amazing material. It is sustainable and 100% natural, and that just radiates from the product!
You can see the pieces and sometimes even notice a twig or a piece can crumble away and that contributes to its natural charm. Each piece is unique and has its own character, which we love. And we haven’t even mentioned the unique aroma, which is reminiscent of an evening stroll in a Mediterranean mountain village where you can smell the wood burners. A wonderful smoky aroma.
Experience it yourself.