Release of terpenes from fir wood during its long-term use and in thermal treatment

Molecules. 2012 Aug 21;17(8):9990-9. doi: 10.3390/molecules17089990.


Building structures made from fir wood are often attacked by wood-destroying insects for which the terpenes it contains serve as attractants. One of the possibilities for extending the lifetime of structures is to use older wood with a lower content of terpenes and/or thermally modified wood. The study evaluated the levels of terpenes in naturally aged fir wood (108, 146, 279, 287 and 390 years) and their decrease by thermal treatment (the temperature of 60 °C and 120 °C, treatment duration of 10 h). Terpenes were extracted from wood samples by hexane and analyzed by gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry (GC-MS). The results indicate that recent fir wood contained approximately 60 times more terpenes than the oldest wood (186:3.1 mg/kg). The thermal wood treatment speeded up the release of terpenes. The temperature of 60 °C caused a loss in terpenes in the recent fir wood by 62%, the temperature of 120 °C even by >99%. After the treatment at the temperature of 60 °C the recent fir wood had approximately the same quantity of terpenes as non-thermally treated 108 year old wood, i.e., approximately 60-70 mg/kg. After the thermal treatment at the temperature of 120 °C the quantity of terpenes dropped in the recent as well as the old fir wood to minimum quantities (0.7-1.1 mg/kg). The thermal treatment can thus be used as a suitable method for the protection of fir wood from wood-destroying insects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abies / chemistry*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Terpenes / analysis*
  • Wood / chemistry*


  • Terpenes