THE NETHERLANDS - Dutch scientists have discovered that a certain fungus protects wood from rotting if the wood is coated with olive oil.
Elke van Nieuwenhuijzen, a researcher at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, found that black fungi and olive oil combine to form a sort of "biofinish" - protecting wood from rot and sunlight degradation while constantly repairing itself.
The study says:
The discovery had already been made almost 20 years ago, by chance, by researcher Michael Sailer who investigated whether vegetable oil can conserve wood. He discovered that pieces of coniferous wood impregnated with linseed oil and hemp oil turned black after being exposed to wind and weather. But the discolored wood did not become soft, like rotten wood, it remained hard. The wood was possibly protected by the black layer, which the microscope showed to be fungus.
Elke van Nieuwenhuijzen has now thoroughly investigated the natural fungal composition of these layers. She was supervised by, among others, mycologists from the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute in Utrecht. Outdoors, she laid planks of three types of wood (spruce, pine, ilomba), impregnated with three types of oil (olive oil, crude linseed oil, stand oil). The fungi then formed automatically and on some planks formed an opaque black layer. She did the same in Norway.
Olive oil worked best in the Netherlands, producing an opaque black protective layer for all three types of wood. Crude linseed oil on pine also worked well. In Norway, the picture was broadly the same, but it took longer for the layer to fully cover the planks. Van Nieuwenhuijzen suspects that this is because of the colder climate.
It is not advised that people treat their outside wood with olive oil themselves. Her research concerned wood impregnated with oil, or permeated. She does expect it to work, however, if the oil is applied with a brush, but it can take months and sometimes even years before the black spots have grown together into a covering layer, especially in sheltered places.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.