Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Stacy from AL. Stacy Wonders, “How are trees made into paper” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Stacy!
If you look at a tree, you might have a hard time imagining how something so tall and strong could be turned into something as thin and weak as a sheet of paper. The process begins with the raw wood, which is made up of fibers called "cellulose."
It's also possible to make paper from a variety of other types of plant fibers, such as cotton, flax, bamboo, and hemp. For example, cotton fibers are often used to make the paper that money is printed on. The overwhelming majority (about 95 percent) of the raw material used to make paper, though, comes from trees.
Once the pulp is ready, it is then used to make paper in a process that is quite similar (in the basic actions) to the process first used by the ancient Chinese more than 1,900 years ago. Because the pulp mixture is so watery (sometimes as much as 99 percent water!), the cellulose fibers need to be separated from the watery mixture.
Finally, the mat is run through heated rollers to squeeze out any remaining water and compress it into one continuous roll of paper that can be up to 30 feet wide.
When the paper has the desired thickness, it may be colored or coated with special chemicals to give it a special texture, extra strength, or water resistance. As a last step, the paper rolls are cut to size and packaged for shipping to other facilities for additional processing to turn it into all sorts of specialized papers.