Wood facts borrowed from FDMC Woodworking Network
Some woods split easily when we hit them with a hammer, chisel or even a cannon ball in the old days. But one species, called tan oak, has wood fibers that are twisted within the wood. These fibers that are twisted resist splitting. In fact, in the War of 1812 here in the U.S , we had a ship that used tan oak for building the sides of the ship. When the British cannonballs hit the ship, they bounced off instead of penetrating and damaging the ship. So, this ship got the nickname of “Old Ironsides.”
If you are in the Southern U.S., most of the children will know about some creeks and rivers in the area that have black or very dark colored water. In fact, many of the stream and rivers have the word black in their names. What makes the water so black? It is the tree that has tannic acid within plus a little bit of iron from the soil mixing to form iron tannate. Iron tannate is a black liquid. Even more, this tannic acids sanitizes the water and acts as a preservative . So, in the old days before plastic jugs and containers, water on ships and other locations was carried in wood barrels. If the water was “black water,” the tannic acid would keep the water fresh and drinkable for months, Sailing ships were delighted to find these black water rivers so that they could get good drinking water.