What Types of Wood Are Used For Plugs?
Plugs can be made from a variety of different materials, from steel to acrylic to glass. But unlike those modern materials, wood has been used to make plugs for more than hundreds of years—and for good reason. Wood is lightweight and porous, which allows the stretched lobe, or even fresh piercing, to breathe when worn. This contributes to a healthier piercing and a more pleasant wearing experience. Not only is wood a healthy plug material, it is also visually appealing; its natural shades and beauty are admired by many.
Are Wooden Plugs (Gauges) Safe to Stretch Your Ears With?
Because wood is a porous material, it can harbor bacteria. While this is perfectly safe for a completely healed stretched lobe, it should not be worn in freshly stretched ears. Additionally, due to their organic composition, wood plugs do have a tendency to fluctuate in size if they’re exposed to a substantial change in temperature.
Are Wood Plugs (Gauges) Good?
If you have healed stretched ears, wood plugs (gauges) are perfectly safe to wear. One of the reasons wood plugs, also referred to as wood gauges, are so good is because they offer such variety, including shapes and sizes. In fact, wood plugs can even have gorgeous intricately carved designs that will draw plenty of attention.
Another reason why wood plugs are so good is that their porous nature is helpful in reducing the “ear cheese” smell, which helps keep your ears and plugs sanitary and in good condition.
The only thing to take into consideration is the fact that because they’re more porous, they will have to be cleansed more often.
How Do You Clean and Care for Wood Plugs (Gauges)?
In order to clean your wood plugs (gauges), you should ensure that you are never emerging them in water or washing them with soap. To properly clean them, you should wipe them down with a damp cloth and air dry them. Next, you should use a soft cloth, similar to the ones you would clean glasses with, and rub jojoba or Vitamin E oil into the wood to prevent them from drying out and cracking. You should always re-oil your wood plugs before wearing them.
It’s important to note that as you continue to massage oil into your plugs, they will darken over time. This is especially important to know if you currently have light wood plugs.
Because wood does not do well in water for lengthy periods of time, you should remove them if you’re going to be participating in any activities that could involve them being submerged in or exposed to water.
Additionally, because wood plugs can darken with exposure to UV rays, you should ensure they are never left in direct sunlight.
Lastly, wood has the potential to “raise-up” over time, in which case your plugs should be re-sanded and buffered with sandpaper.
Types of Wood Plugs
There are many different types of wood, but the most common types used for piercings are: areng ebony wood, crocodile wood, palm or coconut wood, sawo wood, teakwood, tamarind wood, cherry wood, saba wood, olive wood, zebra wood, sono wood, and jackfruit wood. It may seem as though they must be very similar because it’s easy to suspect that wood doesn’t have much variety between types. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. These 12 types of wood are just about as different as possible. Take a look to see how unique each wood type can be.
Areng wood is a natural wood that is finely-textured and has a very smooth finish when polished, making it valuable as an ornamental wood. In fact, it has been used by ancient Egyptians for some of their most famous carvings. In many ways, areng ebony wood resembles black PMMA acrylic and Blackline steel products that have become so popular in the past few years. Perhaps this is what has increased this wood’s popularity as a material for plugs as well.
Despite being made from grass, and therefore not technically a wood, bamboo has the look of tree wood. Many people tend to opt for bamboo plugs because they’re lightweight and eco-friendly. Bamboo plugs are also more cost-effective if you’re looking for a less expensive natural material to wear. Despite being made from grass, and therefore not technically a wood, bamboo has the look of tree wood. Many people tend to opt for bamboo plugs because they’re lightweight and eco-friendly. Bamboo plugs are also more cost-effective if you’re looking for a less expensive natural material to wear.
Black and White Ebony WoodBlack and white ebony wood comes mostly from Laos and parts of Southeast Asia. One of the most striking qualities of this wood is its varying color scheme—sometimes it appears as a vivid white with dark black streaks, and other times it appears as a black wood with white streaks throughout it. This type of wood is generally a straight grain with a natural luster.
Also known as Satine, bloodwood gets its name due to its bright, vivid red color. However, the wood will darken over time to a brownish red with exposure to light. As for the texture of this wood, it is typically a straight grain or slightly interlocked, with a nice natural luster. Coming from South America, bloodwood is highly sought after for its color and its durability.
Cherry Wood Cherry trees make extraordinary garden attractions, with their beautiful blossoms and delicious fruit, but the American hardwood is also commonly used for furniture. The wood is famous for its neutral, pleasant reddish-brown shade and sturdiness. Because of its admired color and gentle grain, it is also frequently used for jewelry. What also makes this type of wood so popular is its finish, which is typically extremely smooth, making for very comfortable furniture…as well as plugs or tunnels.
A very pale, creamy beige color, this is one of the lightest available shades for wooden plugs. The grains of this wood are not very prominent (although some pieces may have narrow, dark stripes), but they do serve as a reminder of the name of this type of wood: “panggal buaya,” which literally means “crocodile teeth” in Indonesian. Crocodile teeth refers to the tooth-shaped knobby protrusions that cover this tree’s trunk, and this is what the tree is known as in the lowlands of the Philippines as well as India.
Ebony is an extremely dense hardwood that is blackish brown in color. It is a highly valuable ornamental wood because of its fine texture and mirror finish when it’s polished. Today, many of the tree species that yield ebony are considered threatened dude to unsustainable harvesting. In fact, in Sri Lanka, the harvesting and sale of ebony is illegal. This is making this material for plugs rarer to come by, and thus more expensive due to its rarity.
Holly usually conjures images of Christmas, with its boughs used for decoration. However, holly is also used to make beautiful lightweight and smooth plugs. White in color, this wood can darken over time with exposure to sunlight. It is also used as a substitute for ebony because it can be dyed black.
Native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, jackfruit trees are believed to have originated in the southwestern rainforests of India. In addition to bearing jackfruit, the largest tree-borne fruit, it can also be used to make beautiful plugs. One of the unique things about jackfruit wood is its appearance: it has a rough texture and deep grains, making any plugs made from this material appear potted. Wearing jackfruit wood plugs is beneficial because the deep grains allow the skin to breathe, which helps eliminate “ear cheese” smell and decreases any kind of infection when worn in healed piercings.
Katalox Wood or Mexican Royal Ebony Wood
Plugs made from Katalox are range from a dark reddish-brown color to nearly black. It’s also not uncommon to for Katalox plugs to have a strong purple hue or some lighter tones. Native to Central America, parts of Mexico, and South America, Katalox is a dense, smooth wood with a natural luster. Its dark color enables it to be used as a substitute for ebony, which is why it is sometimes referred to as Mexican Royal Ebony.
While there are many types of maple trees throughout the globe, Hard Maple (also known as Sugar or Rock Maple) is the most popular type of maple used for wood plugs. Many are drawn to this wood due to its light, white color with the occasional reddish-brown hues; durability; and smooth grain pattern. However, plugs are also made from the heartwood, rather than the sap wood, which is a more brownish-red color. It is important to note that maple will darken as it is exposed to light and oxygen over time.
One of the many reasons people are drawn to olive wood is its gorgeous designs within the grain. It often appears with a heartwood that is a creamy or yellowish brown with black or darker brown contrasting streaks running throughout it. Another thing that makes olive wood unique is its grain pattern, ranging anywhere from curly to burl to wild. This wood has a moderate luster and is lightweight, to make for a pleasant wearing experience. However, this wood will darken over time.
Wood Originally used to make property line markers, the wood from Osage trees makes beautiful plugs. This is due to its color ranging from a rich orange to a very bright golden yellow. However, exposure to UV light will cause the wood to darken to a more medium brown color. The wood has a high natural luster, so the plugs appear smooth and shiny.
Palm or Coconut Wood
Both palm wood and coconut wood refer to the hardwood made from coconut palm trees, which of course flourish in the warmer climates of the world. Used as an environmentally friendly alternative to other hardwoods, coconut wood has a unique rugged texture, which adds a nice visual effect to the wood’s appearance. The combination of dark and light stripes, which tend to alternative sporadically to create an easily distinguishable pattern, easily attracts jewelry makers of all types since the products handcrafted from this wood are sure to stun anyone.
Pink Ivory Wood
If you’re someone who loves pink tones, this wood is perfect for you. Pink Ivory, which originates from South Africa, has a beautiful range in color, appearing anywhere from a pale brownish pink, a bright (nearly neon) pink, and even a deep red. However, the most valuable pieces of the wood are those that display the vibrant pink color. What also contributes to the wood’s aesthetically stunning impact is its curly or fiddleback grain pattern. Overtime, though, the color can fade or dull. Because of its density, it has a high-quality finish—so shiny it is almost reflective.
Palm or Coconut Wood
Both palm wood and coconut wood refer to the hardwood made from coconut palm trees, which of course flourish in the warmer climates of the world. Used as an environmentally friendly alternative to other hardwoods, coconut wood has a unique rugged texture, which adds a nice visual effect to the color of the wood. The color-- or actually, the colors-- are an attractive combination of dark and light stripes which tend to alternate sporadically to create an easily distinguishable pattern. This of course attracts jewelry makers of all types, since the products handcrafted from this wood are sure to stun anyone.
Saba / Sawo Wood
Sawo Wood The scientific name of this type of tree is Sapodilla, and it grows in warm, moist climates, Bali Indonesia. Sapodilla, Sawo wood, or saba wood has a gorgeous, vibrant brown shade with delicate reddish hues mixed in. Dark brown streaks often line the wood, adding to its brilliant texture. Sawo wood can be hand carved into a myriad of shapes thanks to its density. This allows there to be a large variety of plugs and tunnels made from this type of wood on the market.
Sono wood is also called sonokeling or black rosewood in English. The tree originates in India, but even there, carvings in this wood are rather rare. The reason is that the sonokeling tree needs at least 200 years to grow large enough to be used. The wood has subtle light and dark streaks running through its rich dark chocolate color. Because the texture of sono wood is so crisp and dense, it can be shaped into spectacular designs. Its surface after carving is usually surprisingly smooth and glossy, almost as though it’s not wood at all.
Although native to Africa, today tamarind trees are grown effectively in Southern Asia and Mexico. As suggested by the tame, this type of tree produces fruit, but once harvested, the wood can be used for anything, such as tunnels and plugs. Tamarind wood is similar to zebra wood in its grain appearance, but is much lighter in color, as it appears more as a white/yellow/black pattern. While its texture is naturally rugged, this type of wood is usually polished smooth so it can be wearable and safe for healed stretched ears.
Often used for its sturdiness in furniture, exterior construction, veneers, carving, boat building, and, of course, tunnels and plugs, teak wood is very resistant to both decay and insects, making it one of the most durable types of wood on the market. It is usually easy to carve, although its hardness can vary. The wood also has a range of shades: from a light, grainy appearance, to a smoother, darker finish.
Verawood is one of the densest woods in existence. Its color ranges from a light green or brown to a dark forest green. However, it should be noted that the color darkens with age or exposure to light. The grain pattern ranges anywhere from straight to slightly interlocked to spiraled. It has a very smooth texture with a great natural shine.
Zebra wood trees are known to grow in both Central America and Central Africa. Similar to a zebra’s pattern of black stripes over a white background, the stunning grain of this wood makes an awesome choice of wood for plugs. While the sometimes straight, sometimes bumpy grains may appear unpredictable, they are actually rather easy to carve into the perfect shape. The wood itself is also strong and stable, although its weakness would be its higher sensitivity to moisture than other types of wood. When highly polished and cared for, zebra wood makes a spectacular choice for any kind of natural jewelry.