Natural materials are naturally occurring types of matter that are useful for producing goods such as buildings, consumer products and crafts. These include organic matter such as wood or wool that come from plants and animals. Natural materials also include inorganic materials such as stones, minerals and metals. The following are common examples of natural materials.
Feathers / Down
Mother of Pearl
WoodWood is a plentiful natural material that is strong and workable. It has much tradition of use in construction, furniture making and crafts. There are an estimated 3.04 trillion trees on Earth that could be sustained indefinitely if harvested and managed in a sustainable way.
Natural FibersPlant and animal materials that can be used to create textiles and other products such as rope.
StonesStones are solid mineral objects of natural origin. These are commonly used in construction, landscaping, crafts and other goods.
Clays, Bricks & CeramicsBricks and ceramics are commonly made from natural materials such as clay, sand and shale.
Plant MaterialsPlant-based materials beyond wood such as shells, pits and leaves.
Insect MaterialsMaterials such as dyes, waxes, coatings and fibers produced by insects.
Animal MaterialsAnimal based materials used for things like clothing, jewelry and crafts.
DiscussionMany natural materials are processed in a way that makes them artificial. For example, engineered wood products that are formed with chemicals such as glue.Just because a material is natural doesn't mean that it isn't hazardous. For example, asbestos is a natural material that has known hazards.Natural isn't synonymous with sustainable. For example, the mining process for a natural material can damage the environment. The sustainability of a material requires a look at the details of its entire lifestyle. In some cases, synthetic materials are arguably more sustainable than natural equivalents whereby they could potentially produce less harm over their lifecycle.Glass naturally occurs as volcanic glass. Manufactured glass products may resemble a natural material in their composition.Metal alloys such as steel contain multiple metals but are potentially free of chemical additives.Bricks are manufactured materials that can be composed of natural materials such as sand, clay, lime, iron oxide and magnesia.Most natural materials undergo heavy processing that resembles manufacturing. The term natural material is often used to distinguish between products with relatively unprocessed ingredients in contrast to chemicals such as plastic that are pervasive in products and building materials.The line between natural materials and synthetics isn't always clear. For example, a synthetic fiber that resembles a chemical product that uses mostly natural materials in its formulation.It is very common for products that aren't at all natural to be marketed as such.Wood is a primary type of natural material that is abundant and workable with desirable material properties such as strength in tension and compression.Next: Raw Materials
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ReferencesCrowther, Thomas W., et al. "Mapping tree density at a global scale." Nature 525.7568 (2015): 201-205.
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