Balsa Wood Properties, Uses and Advantages

Balsa wood is famous for its properties, which are used for many applications. Balsa is also known by different names in different countries. This wood is also known as Ochroma. It is a large, fast-growing tree that can grow up to 30 m tall and has a 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter in 10-15 years.

Balsa wood is soft and lightweight, it is among the strongest wood for its weight. Wood has a high water content, so it is necessary to dry properly before use.

Balsa trees are native to Mexico, Central America, and South America, but now it is also found in other countries such as (Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand, Solomon Islands). According to Wikipedia, the Balsa tree has flowered since the third year, and it blooms in the afternoon and survives till the following day.

Density Around 160 kg/m3
Janka Hardness67 lbF (300 N)
Toughness Low – up to 15 Nm
Maximum Crushing Strength4.9- 17.6
ColorWhite, yellow, pale straw,  light brown
Tree Size: 60-90 ft (18-28 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter
Elastic Modulus: 538,000 lbf/in2 (3.71 GPa)

Balsa Color and Appearance

The heartwood color of Balsa Wood turns pale reddish-brown. And Its sapwood color is off-white or tan color, sometimes it is pink or yellow hue color. Balsa has a straight grain. So that it gives a uniform look.

What is Balsa Wood Used For?

The balsa tree is very soft and lightweight as well as it is coarse. The density of Balsa wood is around 160 kg / m. The weight of Balsa is light, but it is strong. So Balsa is a very popular material for model building.

Model Building

Balsa wood is mainly used in bridge tests and model aircraft. Where strength and bending properties are of the most importance. Balsa Wood is very much in demand in aeronautic molding as it is a perfect wood that can easily withstand crash landings and does not cause significant damage. It also is valued as a component of the full-sized light wooden airplane.

Aircraft and Boat Industries

Balsa wood has been used in construction since the second world war. During the war, balsa was one of the timbers used in building the de Havilland Mosquito aircraft.

Balsa wood is lighter. It is used in boat construction to reduce the weight of the boat. Today, balsa Wood is used in plywood using Modern Technology. It is stronger and lighter, making it much easier to use plywood than pure Balsa wood for many purposes.

Balsa is used to make wooden crankbaits for fishing, especially Rapala lures.


Balsa wood acts as good insulation. Wood is used in houses with damp walls and ceilings. So that it keeps the house warm. It is also used to insulate refrigerators due to its thermal properties.


In the film industry, Balsa Wood is extensively used. In which the table and chairs are broken for film filming to minimize damage. Apart from this, karate experts practice breaking Balsa Wood with their hands.

Sport Parts Construction

Balsa Wood is the perfect wood for the racket of table tennis and badminton rackets, which is light and strong.


Balasa can be an excellent choice for carving because of its softness and ease of finishing. Curving can be done very easily with small and sharp tools. However, the detailing in the wood could have been better with sharp tools. But if you are looking for perfect carving wood, I recommend you choose basswood. Which comes from a family of hardwoods, where carving is better than balsa.

Musical String Instruments

Wood may never be replaced as the material of choice for Musical instruments. Balsa wood is used to make a violin and many other musical instruments.

The physical materials used to make any musical instrument affect the quality of the sound. The wood is chosen not only for its sound quality but also to give a distinct look to the instrument.

In earlier times, when no commercial metal was available for pen nibs, Balasa Wood’s Sticks were dried and used for calligraphy.

Balsa Wood Advantages And Disadvantages


  1. Balsa wood is light, making it the perfect wood for model making.
  2. This wood is lighter and can float in the water for some time, so this wood is made using fishing lures.
  3. Balsa tree naturally grows very fast. It completes the length of 27 meters in 10-15 years so that more wood is available in working time.
  4. This wood is easily found in blocks at most stores, whose price is not too much so everyone can take it. 
  5. It retains a lot of water, making it very strong.
  6. Due to its low density, it is easy to work with. Balsa stains and finishes nicely.


  1. Balsa wood is not highly durable, so we cannot make the furniture used in our house from this wood.
  2. It is prone to rot when exposed to water continuously for a long time, so it is not suitable for outdoor use.
  3. This wood is light and highly flammable, so it soon burns when exposed to fire.
  4. The sapwood of Balsa wood does not have rot resistance. So this is susceptible to insect attack. Therefore it’s required more care.

It is essential to dry them before using them. If we use any wood before it dries and then after some time the wood becomes dry, then it can spoil our work. Because wood size decreases after drying. It takes 2 weeks to dry in kiln-dried.

Balsa’s propriety depends on its drying process, which affects wood’s lifespan. How to cut the logs of Balsa Wood also depends on the properties of the wood. Such as Tangent cut or A-grain has the best bending properties. Quartersawn or C-grain balsa offers stiffness.


If we look at the properties of Balsa Wood, then we understand its usefulness. It has a special place in the field of molding as a softwood. If you are crazy about art and model making, then this wood is perfect for you. But if you are looking for wood for carving, then basswood can be a better option.

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