Article image

Wood surfaces can naturally reduce virus transmission

Wood surfaces play a crucial role in the transmission of viruses, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Contaminated surfaces can pass viruses from person to person, raising the question: can certain surfaces naturally reduce this risk?

New research from the American Chemical Society has found that wood possesses natural antiviral properties, which can decrease the duration viruses remain infectious on its surface.

Interestingly, some types of wood are more effective than others in reducing viral infectivity.

Wood’s antiviral properties

Enveloped viruses, such as the coronavirus, can survive on surfaces for up to five days, while nonenveloped viruses, including those responsible for the common cold, can persist for weeks – even on disinfected surfaces.

Wood is known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it a popular choice for cutting boards. However, its ability to inactivate viruses has not been thoroughly explored until now.

Researchers studied the antiviral effects of six types of wood: Scots pine, silver birch, gray alder, eucalyptus, pedunculate oak, and Norway spruce.

They aimed to determine how long enveloped and nonenveloped viruses remained infectious on these surfaces.

Virus activity on wood surfaces

To assess viral activity, the researchers periodically flushed the wood surfaces with a liquid solution and introduced this solution to cultured cells in petri dishes. By measuring cell infection rates, they evaluated the antiviral efficacy of each wood type.

For enveloped coronavirus, pine, spruce, birch, and alder surfaces completely reduced the virus’s infectivity within one hour. Eucalyptus and oak required two hours. Pine showed the fastest antiviral action, starting after just five minutes, followed by spruce, which significantly reduced infectivity within ten minutes.

In the case of non-enveloped enterovirus, oak and spruce surfaces rendered the virus noninfectious within approximately an hour, with oak acting in 7.5 minutes and spruce in 60 minutes. Pine, birch, and eucalyptus took four hours to reduce the virus’s infectivity, while alder showed no antiviral effect.

Role of wood’s chemical composition

The researchers concluded that the chemical composition of a wood’s surface is primarily responsible for its antiviral properties.

While further study is needed to pinpoint the exact chemical mechanisms, these findings highlight wood as a promising candidate for natural, sustainable antiviral materials.

This research opens up new possibilities for using wood in environments where viral transmission is a concern, potentially leading to safer public spaces and homes.

As we continue to seek ways to combat viruses, wood’s natural antiviral properties may offer an effective and eco-friendly solution.

Minimizing virus activity with wood

The discovery of wood’s antiviral properties opens numerous applications across various sectors. In healthcare, wood can be used for furniture, hospital bed rails, and countertops to reduce viral spread in hospitals and clinics.

In public spaces, incorporating wood in high-touch areas such as handrails, benches, and tables can enhance hygiene. Schools and daycare centers can use wood for desks and play areas, offering a safer environment for children.

The food industry can benefit by using wooden cutting boards and surfaces, reducing the risk of viral contamination. Additionally, wood can be integrated into office spaces, gyms, and transportation hubs to promote healthier environments.

This eco-friendly solution provides a sustainable alternative to chemical disinfectants, aligning with growing environmental concerns.

As research advances, wood’s antiviral properties might lead to innovative products and designs, significantly impacting how we manage viral transmission in our daily lives.

Beneficial properties of wood

Wood boasts several beneficial properties beyond its antiviral capabilities. It is renowned for its antibacterial and antifungal qualities, making it a popular choice for kitchen utensils, cutting boards, and food storage containers.

Wood is also a natural insulator, providing excellent thermal and acoustic insulation, which is ideal for building construction and interior design.

Its high strength-to-weight ratio makes wood both durable and lightweight, suitable for a variety of structural applications. Additionally, wood has aesthetic appeal, offering a natural, warm, and timeless look that enhances interior spaces.

It is a renewable resource, making it an environmentally friendly option compared to synthetic materials. Wood also has the ability to regulate humidity by absorbing and releasing moisture, contributing to healthier indoor air quality.

Furthermore, wood can be easily shaped and modified, allowing for versatility in design and construction. These properties make wood a valuable material in numerous industries and applications.

The study is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.


Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter for engaging articles, exclusive content, and the latest updates. 

Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and


News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day