Chestnuts, Mercurochrome™ and Lumber

I’ve been thinking about chestnuts lately.  Rebecca and I found some a while back. By some I mean about five actual chestnuts and several hundred empty prickly shells. As expected, I poked a couple of my fingers bloody. Oddly, I survived. It must have been one of those “man injuries.”

I remember getting bloody fingertips, as a child, trying to pick up the spike covered shells. I’d always end up with orange fingertips after being tended to by my mom or my great aunt with that Mercurochrome™. That workhorse of the 20th century came with only a few problems… one is that it contained mercury. The second is the way it stains the skin making it difficult to detect any infection on the skin or in the wound. Skin which is red and irritated will be difficult to see under a coating of Mercurochrome™, which means that the infection could be missed until it grows much larger.

Though it is available in most countries, it is no longer sold in Switzerland, Brazil, France, Iran, Germany, or the United States due to its mercury content.

Back to chestnuts.

We were out walking, not on anyone’s private property, though I’m struggling to remember the exact location, when we came across the nuts in question.

I hadn’t seen any chestnuts in years. It obviously brought back a ton of childhood memories.

We had a few chestnut trees on family property back in the ’70s. We had walnut and acorn trees, too. Chestnuts are today’s special.

One they were safely removed from the prickly exterior shell, then the sheel would have to be removed from the nut. That seemed as difficult as anything to a 10-year-old eager to have some chestnuts.


Speaking of chestnuts, I came across some chestnut timber a while back. That was quite a find. I’m not sure what exactly I will do with it. If you have any suggestions, email me at

I was thinking a table, possibly a bed, or some chairs… I’m really just not sure.

According to research, it is estimated that in some places, such as the Appalachian Mountains, one in every four hardwoods was an American chestnut. Mature trees often grew straight and branch-free for 50 feet and could grow up to 100 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 14 feet at a few feet above ground level. The reddish-brown wood was lightweight, soft, easy to split, very resistant to decay; and it did not warp or shrink. For three centuries many barns and homes near the Appalachian Mountains were made from American chestnut. Because of its resistance to decay, industries sprang up throughout the region to use wood from the American chestnut for posts, poles, piling, railroad ties, and split-rail fences. Its straight-grained wood was ideal for building furniture, and caskets as well. The fruit that fell to the ground was an important cash crop and food source. The bark and wood were rich in tannic acid, which also provided tannins for use in the tanning of leather. Many native animals fed on chestnuts, and chestnuts were used for livestock feed, which kept the cost of raising livestock from being prohibitive.


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