Heat treatment permanently changes the physical and chemical properties of wood by means of high temperatures (150 - 240°C). Heat treatment darkens the colour of the wood. Heat treatment improves the equilibrium moisture content of the wood and the shrinkage and swelling of the wood is reduced. Very high temperatures improve the resistance to rot and also reduce the susceptibility to fungal decay. At the same time the strength properties of the timber are reduced: the bending strength can fall by 30%, depending on the treatment conditions and the cleavage strength (tensile strength perpendicular to fibres) may be reduced to a half, which makes heat treated timber split easily. The improved characteristics of heat treated timber offer the timber product industry many potential and attractive new opportunities. Also wood species having no commercial value as such can be heat treated and in this way new uses can be found for these species.