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How is Wood Pulp Shipped?

Wood pulp is often shipped by the truckload. See how the right partner can help and get a freight rate quote today!

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Ask Truckload
December 23, 2020
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Wood pulp is the main ingredient in process of making paper. You can also find wood pulp in fabrics and absorbent personal care items. You might even find wood pulp in electronics like LCD screens. With so many applications in necessary products, it’s easy to see why wood pulp needs to move from the processing plant to end-product manufacturer. But how is wood pulp shipped? Moving this in-demand commodity comes with some careful considerations.

How is wood pulp shipped? You’ll find that wood pulp can be shipped wet or dry; either in pressed bales or rolls. Wood pulp is often shipped by truckload as opposed to LTL, as drainage can occur during shipping and pose a liability to other cargo on board. Humidity, ventilation, and product safety must also be considered when shipping wood pulp.

Ready to get started shipping wood pulp? Learn more about how wood pulp is made, how wood pulp is used, how is wood pulp shipped, and how the right freight partner can help.

How is Wood Pulp Made?

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Wood pulp is a fibrous material. It comes from the woody part of trees. Wood pulp is made by separating special cellulose fibers from woody plant material. 

There are quite a few methods for producing wood pulp. Wood pulp can be chemically or mechanically separated from raw materials.

Chemically separated wood pulp comes from a process called chemical pulping. During this process, wood chips are macerated by chemicals. The chemicals used in the pulping process soda, sulfate, and sulfite. The use of sulfates is sometimes called kraft pulping, with the end result called kraft pulp. Kraft pulp can be made from either hardwood or softwood. 

Other kinds of chemical pulp include dissolving pulp and fluff pulp. Dissolving pulp is an ingredient essential in the processes of making acetate, satiny fabrics, film, LCD screens, and even Legos. Fluff pulp can be made into a special absorbent material in all kinds of health and sanitary products. Chemical pulp and kraft pulp tend to be stronger than mechanical pulp.

Mechanical pulp is separated by machine. It can be ground or chipped. Producers might get more pulp from a mechanical process than a chemical pulping process. Mechanical pulp is most commonly used in paper-based products. Paper towels, tissues, newsprint, paperboard, printing papers, and other kinds of paper products are often made from mechanical pulp.

Additionally, higher-quality papers might contain both kraft pulp and mechanical pulp. Paper produced with both kraft and mechanical pulp can be stronger and more durable than when produced with mechanical pulp alone. 

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

How is Wood Pulp Used?

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Wood pulp is used in a variety of products. While some methods were mentioned above, you’ll find that wood pulp is used in everything from Lego bricks to paper products to fabrics. Vintage eyeglasses can even contain wood pulp. However, a large percentage of wood pulp produced in the United States is used to make paper.

Wood pulp is the base ingredient of the papermaking process. To produce paper, the mechanically or separated pulp slurry is strained with screens. Pieces that are too large are removed from the slurry. After the mixture is strained, it is passed over a machine called a cylinder board. This turns the pulp into a sheet. A hydraulic press is then used to remove any extra water in the sheet.

After the sheets are pressed and moisture is removed, they are usually balled and banded. If the pulp sheets will be transported over a great distance or stored for a long time, they are usually dried to a moisture content of approximately 10% before they are banded. From there, the balled and banded wood pulp can be transported to a paper plant for finishing and paper manufacturing.

Wood pulp is used in much more than the papermaking process, though. For example when it comes to clothing, you’ll find pulp from wood as an ingredient in rayon and Lyocell. This surprising touch makes the fabric breathable when spun into fabric.

One surprising use of wood pulp is in food. While wood pulp has no nutritional value, you’ll find it in a variety of products. One common use of wood pulp is in shredded cheese. Cellulose wood pulp is used in shredded cheese to prevent the slivers from sticking together. You’ll also find cellulose wood pulp in ice cream, bread, tomato sauce, and other stapes in your pantry. 

How is Wood Pulp Shipped?

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Wondering how is wood pulp shipped? The process is tricky and comes with several considerations. Let’s dive into the process of shipping wood pulp.

Both mechanical and chemical wood pulp are usually put in bales or rolls for shipping and storage. The bales and rolls of wood pulp are secured with bands. The bands are very important. If a band breaks, the pulp will spill and cannot be salvaged. Contact with water should be avoided during transport, as this can cause the bands to rust and lead to staining.

After the wood pulp is baled, it is generally shipped in a dry van. It is advisable to ship wood pulp by the entire truckload rather than via LTL or parcel shipping.

The bales or rolls of wood pulp can be shipped wet or dry. Wet wood pulp requires special handling. It is wise to ship wet wood pulp in a dedicated truck, as drainage is possible. Potential drainage from wet wood pulp could damage other cargo in the van. 

Considerations and Challenges Associated with Shipping Wood Pulp

Another consideration when shipping wood pulp, especially wet wood pulp, is humidity and moisture content. As the name implies, the wet wood pulp has a higher moisture content than dry wood pulp. Moisture content should be maintained throughout the shipping and transport process. As stated above, wood pulp should maintain a moisture level of about 10% during transport and storage. 

If wood pulp gets too wet during shipping, problems can occur. Not only can the excess moisture cause drainage that can damage other cargo on board, but it can also cause damage to the wood pulp itself. Too much moisture can negatively effect the strength of the cellulose and pulp fibers. Moisture might cause discoloration of the pulp sheets. Discoloration might be a problem when the pulp is to be used to make white paper. Too much moisture can also lead to mold growth during shipping and storage, which can lead to serious loss of product. Moisture can also cause the bale bands to break and further damage the pulp sheets.

An additional thing to keep in mind when shipping wood pulp includes toxicity. While wood pulp is not considered a hazmat commodity, it can contain chemicals that may be harmful so care is required during transport. According to information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), toxins in wood pulp include the remaining chemicals used in processing and bleaching. These chemicals can include resin acids, fatty acids, and chlorinated compounds.

The chemicals used to make wood pulp can also be associated with a distinct odor. Chemical wood pulp also can have a strong smell, which can be quite unpleasant. The smelliest chemicals used in the wood pulp process include sulfides, ammonia, and other organic compounds. The sulfides can produce an odor similar to rotten eggs. Ammonia produces a distinct chemical smell, and the odor of the organic compounds can vary. This all adds up to a particularly stinky product. The smell factor means that ventilation should be a wood pulp shipping consideration, too.

In very rare cases, wood pulp can self-heat during shipping. Self-heating can lead to product damage and even total loss from spontaneous combustion. When shipping woof pulp, transporters need to be aware of the cargo at all times and pay careful attention to the temperature of their load.

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

Shipping Wood Pulp with R+L Global Logistics

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Now that you know a bit more about how is wood pulp shipped, it’s time to book your next truckload shipment. Finding the right truckload freight solution for shipping wood pulp is easy with R+L Global Logistics on your side. We know your industry and can provide answers only available from a strategic partner.

You’ll find lots of options in the transportation market today. R+L Global Logistics stands apart because of our dedication to service. You’ll find that our staff of live, friendly agents is standing by and ready when you need us. We only work with the best carriers on the road today to ensure the integrity of your shipment. R+L Global Logistics has a proven track record of 99.5% on-time delivery and offers full transparency along each mile of your freight shipping journey.

Additionally, you can count on R+L Global Logistics to cover your truckload freight route. We ship along all major lanes and can even offer a solution off the beaten path. 
What are you waiting for? Reach out to R+L Global Logistics for a truckload freight quote today.

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.
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