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Name: Raven
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location:WV
Country: N/A
Date: 1/9/2006


Question:
What is the chemical compound of wood if h2o is water?


Replies:
Wood is largely cellulose, and cellulose is polymerized sugar. Starch is in between sugar and cellulose. These are all "carbohydrates". Cellulose is the carbohydrate with molecules too long and well-knit to be digested easily. Carbohydrates have an average chemical composition of CH2O or C(1)H(2)O(1), and much of the structure is:
   |
(H-C-O-H)x,
   |
   

meaning a string of x carbons, each dangling an -H and an -OH on the side. The number "x" is a big and variable number, something over 20. There are loops and exceptions every several carbons, so it's not a perfectly simple chain.

There will be some included water, so fresh green wood will be more like (CH2O.H2O)x. Baking the wood dry removes that included water, and baking it hot enough to brown or char extracts even more water by taking some H and OH off the carbon chain. So it will never have a really exact formula. Also it used to be a living thing, so there must be some proteins, having some Nitrogen atoms, mixed in with all that cellulose. But CH2O is a decent aproximate formula to start with. Some chemists burn wood in a hot glass tube and measure all the gasses to find the exact element percentages.

Jim Swenson


Wood is not a single chemical compound. Like the human body, wood, which is basically the body of a living thing, has many structures to it. All the structures will be made of what are known as organic compounds, consisting mostly of Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O) in various ratios. Some of the compounds will also have other elements in them.

Greg Blackburn


Various kinds of wood contain many different chemical compounds. However, all woods are predominantly cellulose, which is a high molecular weight "carbohydrate". The term "carbo--hydrate" derives from the fact that the simple formula for most all such compounds is C--(H2O). Now, how the carbons, oxygens, and hydrogens are 'put together' is very complicated, but the overall atomic proportions is 1 carbon, 1 oxygen, and 2 hydrogens.

Vince Calder



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