AbstractThe objective of this study was to investigate the color and chemical changes of thermo-vacuum treated larch wood. Specimens were heat treated in a vacuum at various temperatures for 4 h. The color parameters of untreated and heat-treated samples were measured using the CIELab color system. Changes in the chemistry of larch wood were investigated using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy, and UV-Vis spectroscopy. The results showed that the color of larch wood became darker at higher treatment temperatures. The O/C ratio decreased with an increase in treatment temperature. The C1 peaks showed that there was an elevated content of lignin and extractives on the wood surface after heat treatment. There were more free radicals for thermally treated wood samples, as demonstrated by the increase in the intensities of the ESR signals. Some groups of lignin that contribute to the darkness of the wood increased after thermo-vacuum treatment. Changes in surface chemistry may be the cause of discolorations that occurred during thermo-vacuum treatment.