Bog-wood, also known as abonos and morta, especially amongst pipe smokers, is a material from trees that have been buried in peat bogs and preserved from decay by the acidic and anaerobic bog conditions, sometimes for hundreds or even thousands of years. The wood is usually stained brown by tannins dissolved in the acidic water. Bog-wood represents the early stages in the fossilisation of wood, with further stages ultimately forming jet, lignite and coal over a period of many millions of years. Bog-wood may come from any tree species naturally growing near or in bogs, including oak (Quercus – "bog oak").
Bog-wood is characterized by natural staining and variations in color, and the direction of growth rings. Well preserved bog-wood is not affected by weather conditions or organisms which would change its strength and appearance. Semi-dry bog-wood is sometimes of a golden or copper color, or with a tint of some other hue, and is exceptionally hard. Older wood can be completely black, yet possess the rich variations in hue characteristic of “live” wood. This dark hue is a special feature of abonos as a construction material, whether it is used for the making of semi-manufactured goods, veneer or planks.
Water flow and depth play a special role in the creation of morta. Currents bind the minerals and iron in the water with tannins in the wood, naturally staining the wood in the process. This centuries-long process, often termed "maturation," turns the wood from golden-brown to completely black, while increasing its hardness to such a level that it can only be carved with the use of specialty cutting tools.
Saving the wood for further processing is a very delicate matter. Extracted logs must be wrapped in waterproof material and meticulously dried to prevent warping. The process of wood desiccation is complex, and despite great care, most of the raw wood is unsuitable for further processing. For this reason, the price of high quality raw abonos is quite high.
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