Petrified Wood Colors Defined

There's no denying the fact that one of the most attractive features of petrified wood is the wide range of colors it possesses. Some pieces may only have a couple shades of brown or red, while others can have blue, gold and even pink. It's said that no two pieces of petrified wood are exactly the same, as they all contain a unique color combination. If you've ever wondered what gives petrified wood its wide range of colors, keep reading and we'll explain what they mean. Having a better understanding of the colors in petrified wood will allow you to get the most out of your hobby.

Before we start, it's important to note that the colors you see in petrified wood are essentially minerals and elements that have slowly replaced the organic contents of the wood over the course of hundreds of years. When a tree falls and is submerged in mineral-rich water, the petrification process begins to occurs. It doesn't happen overnight, but eventually the minerals in the water will replace the contents of the wood; therefore, creating petrified wood.


One of the most common colors found in petrified wood is black. Although it's rare to find a piece consisting entirely of black, most petrified wood will feature at last some in it. So, what type of mineral gives petrified wood a black color? When carbon is mixed into the water where the wood is submerged, it will create black. As you may know, carbon is a common element found in natural minerals, which is why there are so many pieces of petrified wood containing black.

iron-oxideRed / Brown

Iron oxide, more commonly known as rust, is a compound that creates both red and brown shades in petrified wood. As the name suggests, iron oxide is a combination of iron and oxygen. When this compound is found in the waters where a log is submerged, it can create a variety of colors with red and brown being the two most likely. Because of its durability, vibrant colors and ability to withstand water, iron oxide is also used in a variety of paints.

Blue / Green

Blue and green are two other common colors found in petrified wood. While there are a couple different elements known to produce these colors in petrified wood, the ones with the most effect are chromium and cobalt. Chromium is considered to be the 24th most abundant element in the world and was used by ancient Chinese cultures to craft weapons and armor thousands of years ago. Also, when chromium is added to steel, it protects it against the rusting effects of moisture, which is essentially how stainless steel was invented.

Cobalt is only found naturally in chemically-combined form, but when it's used to form petrified wood, it leaves a blue tint. In fact, civilizations have been using cobalt for thousands of years to create blue-colored earrings, necklaces and other forms of jewelry.

maganeasePink / Yellow

Have you ever seen a piece of petrified wood with shades of either pink or yellow? These colors are usually produced by the element manganese, which is found in minerals throughout the world. Although it has many different uses, manganese is most commonly used in the production of steel.

As you're probably aware, many multivitamins also contain traces of manganese. While there are no studies proving the benefits of manganese consumption, many health experts claim that it helps to boost the body's immune system.

The bottom line is that the minerals and elements listed above are just a few of the possible reasons why some of the colors are produced in petrified wood. When these minerals come into contact with the organic substances inside the wood, it slowly replaces them over time. Once the process has finished, it leaves behind the colors of the minerals and compounds that replaced it, hence you have colored petrified wood.