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Northern white cedar, or thuja occidentalis, also goes by the name eastern white cedar, swamp cedar and arborvitae, Latin for "tree of life". The name arborvitae stems from the 1500's when American Indians taught French explorer Jacques Cartier how to treat scurvy with the tree's foliage. The world record northern white cedar tree is 113 feet tall and its trunk nearly six feet in diameter. The wood is rot and termite resistant and is used primarily in products which are in direct contact with water and soil. The main range of northern white cedar stretches from the Maritime provinces of Canada to Minnesota.

Northern white cedar is a superior wood in its resistance to the elements and is considered one of the longest-lasting woods used in the lumbering industry today. The heartwood of northern white cedar produces organic compounds called thujaplicins, giving off that distinct cedar aroma, which appeals to our senses but is offensive to insects, moths, and other pests. Cedar's closed cell structure deters moisture absorption, therefore hindering the internal growth of mold or mildew. Because of cedar's resistance to moisture, it is a favorite wood in humid areas such as saunas, bathrooms, and kitchens.

Cedar's natural barrier against decay and insects is the reason this wood is traditionally used for fencing, shingles, decks, boats and outdoor furniture. Cedar is a dimensionally stable wood, especially when kiln-dried, meaning it lies flat and stays straight, resisting the natural tendency as with other wood species to crack, providing a splinter resistant and extremely smooth finish.

Northern white cedar's wood weighs about 19 pounds per cubic foot air dried and is considered one of the lightest of the softwoods. Because cedar can withstand the outdoor elements such as decay and rot, your Cedar Furniture really does not need a preservative. Many folks prefer to allow their cedar furniture to "naturally age" outdoors without any finish at all. In this way, the furniture is visually harmonious with the landscape.

Over time, the color will weather from a light tan to a handsome silver-gray highlighted by darker streaks, some variation of color is dependant on the amount of sunight vs shade. If you prefer the natural look, you might want to consider a wood sealer, which blocks the pores of the wood. Free of pitch and resin, cedar can be finished with semi-transparent or fullbodied stains or paints, should you prefer.

 
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