What Are Corks Made From?


Cork is a familiar material, but it is sometimes assumed wrongly to be the product of a great deal of factory processing. Instead, cork literally grows on trees and is a forestry product, and making corks for wine bottles involves only a few simple steps.

Cork Trees

  • The raw material for corks is the bark of the cork oak, an evergreen tree present in southwest Europe and northwest Africa. Cork bark contains a high proportion of suberin, a waxy substance that repels water.


  • Once every nine or 10 years, most of the bark is stripped from the trunk of a cork tree. The resulting thick planks are left out in the open to dry and season.

Cork Making

  • To make corks, planks of bark are boiled in water to clean them and improve their flexibility. The corks are then punched right out of the bark itself.

Other Uses

  • Items such as cork boards, cork liners and cork flooring are made by grinding up the cork planks and reprocessing them, often using a glue or some other binding agent.

Cork and Portugal

  • The single largest producer of cork in the world is Portugal. This small country produces just more than half of the world's total cork output.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Thomas
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