The Glue that Holds it all Together


Part of managing an active tree farm used for both industry and recreation is ensuring that proper maintenance is performed to keep the logging roads clear and useable. Following is an overview of lignin – the organic substance that, with cellulose, forms the chief constituent of wood and serves a number of industrial uses, including dust suppression at Galbraith Mountain.

Lignin is concentrated in the cell walls of wood and is the second most abundant organic material on Earth. As an industrial use, it is ideal for binding products together, thanks to its naturally adhesive properties. For this reason, it makes a great dust suppressant on the unpaved logging roads at Galbraith Mountain.

In a dust control capacity, the lignin (at this point it’s technically “lignosulfonate”, the lignin byproduct created after it is separated from the wood during the pulping process) works by binding the road surface particles together. The water evaporates from the lignin as it dries and the dust particles are trapped by the naturally viscous material. It’s a relatively quick process, taking only about 10 minutes for a truck to spray 1,000 ft. of roadway. The road is considered useable within 10-15 minutes after spraying, though it can take another hour or two to fully dry.

With the long stretch of dry weather in the Pacific Northwest this summer, a little dust suppression was ideal for log trucks and mountain bikers alike. Though it may produce a certain stench (just think of it as the sweet smell of the dust being trapped), lignosulfonate is considered non-toxic, biodegradable, and non-hazardous. Next time you take the Tower Road up to the blue rock at Galbraith, take note of your smooth, dustless, ride. That’s lignin in action!