how to sterizilize driftwood

bee_rad(z9 so cal)September 14, 2003

theres a bunch of good driftwood ive found, however i know icannot directly place it in into my terrarium. the driftwood is in a river runoff that goes directly into the ocean. whats the best way for me to clean the wood? thanks.


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I have no idea but you might try telling what kind, if any plants you have.Also tell if you have any animals inside.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2003 at 4:00PM
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bee_rad(z9 so cal)

the animals are green tree frogs and i have no idea what type of wood it is. the plants in my terrarium is a pothos, a fern, and baby tears as the ground cover.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2003 at 4:10PM
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dianamay(z9 So.TX)

Explain what situation the wood was in. Was there any chance of salt in the water because of tides? How big are the pieces?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2003 at 12:11AM
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if and when a piece of driftwood is in question as to it's potential to contain something nasty,be it organic or otherwise,i'd suggest boiling it. in the past when i'd want a piece in my AQUARIUM(yes i know...we're talking about a terrarium here),i'd boil it,let it cool,and then look at the surface to see if there was a sheen of oil there. the stuff i had was from a lake where folks were motoring and petroleum contamination was an issue. if there was so much as a drop of that stuff there,i'd pour it out...refill it and boil it over again and would repeat this until there was no trace of that stuff left. but if your concern is with the potential animal life inherrent in the good rolling boil will take care of that in a jiffy! LOL!!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2003 at 4:38PM
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bee_rad(z9 so cal)

okay i posted on another site and somebody told me this. by the way, yes, the wood is in salt water. heres what i was told to do:
"The pieces that were small enough, I boiled, for 1+ hrs. in extremely strong brine. fallowed in soaking in fresh water ( changing from time to time ) until the salt was gone. The pieces that were not small enough, I just soaked in extremely strong brine, for several days, fallowed by the same kind of fresh water changing to leach out the salt. Sometimes I will soak in a bleach solution, fallowed by air drying until it is dry all the way through and no longer smells of chlorine."



    Bookmark   September 15, 2003 at 8:47PM
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bada(z10 CA)

wow, that sounds like a lot of work...

    Bookmark   September 16, 2003 at 6:02AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Anytime your trying to sterilize an organic item it generally is quite a bit of work. Particularly since one doesn't want to use any chemicals that could potentially kill other life forms that will be around it.

: )

    Bookmark   September 21, 2003 at 3:37PM
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travesty34(Zone 5 / IL)

Just submerge the wood in fresh water and a splash of bleach with a brick for at least a couple of days then rinse very well. Let it air dry for a couple more days, then bake in an oven at 200 deg.f for about an hour to an hour and a half.That should be more than sufficient for removing excess salt and killing any unwanted life forms in the wood.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2004 at 8:40AM
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homer_zn5(z5 IN)

If it was sitting in saltwater, there is unlikely to be anything harmful left on it besides the salt. Salt has a nasty tendency to dessicate anything alive. Just boil it in fresh water and soak it in fresh water (changing it daily) for a few days to leach out the salt. Sticking it in the freezer will also kill off most harmful organisms. That's what the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago does.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2004 at 12:44AM
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jordan_and_slippy(NW USA)

What's the best way to sterilize large pieces of any wood? One method I've heard of is freezing for several days, which seems easier than boiling for large pieces, but does it work?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 11:53PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

I recently sterilized a large piece of driftwood by soaking it in a large rubbermaid tote with a diluted bleach solution. I used just enough water to cover the wood. Soaked it overnight, and then emptied that water and soaked the wood in two rounds of fresh water to get rid of the bleach. It did bleach the wood a bit, but oh well! Once it's covered in moss you won't be able to tell anyways! Freezing wouldn't kill everything. Some germs can go dormant, and many are surprisingly resistant to extreme temps. If you're really concerned about residual bleach leaching into your tank, just do more fresh water rinses.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2004 at 7:18PM
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i have 1000's of pieces of driftwood and the end use determines the extent of cleaning, but a 1:20 diluted solution of bleach and water should handle it all as others have posted. i would add that too strong a solution will eat into the wood and enhance the decay process. and rinse plenty.
ironically, i have found very fews pieces with visible organisms. the best seems to be the cedars that seem to be naturally immune. i have also been finding something i call ironwood, altho i really don't know what it is. it is very heavy and rot and pest free.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2007 at 4:47PM
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I used to soak in 1 part bleach 3 parts water, use a brick to hold it underwater, dependeing on the size of the driftwood, and let it soak for a day, then replace the solution and let it soak another day, this would kill off and dissolve any living critters in the wood, then I would soak in fresh water for a day, then I would take the driftwood and place it on a piece of plywood up on the roof and leave it there for about a week, always in the summer as the summer sun will bleach it to a perfect piece of driftwood every time =)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 2:00PM
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Ironwood is not a specific name for any one species--many species of trees have "ironwood" as part of their common name.

Generally, it is used for a species with very dense wood. Most should have wood that sink in water, even salt water.

As was mentioned, the most important part of treating your driftwood is to get all the salt out. That takes a lot of soaking, and a lot of water changes!

Then, you could bake, soak in a diluted bleach solution, or boil if you're concerned about organisms.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 11:51PM
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