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Still thinking about how to preserve natural posts  RSS feed

 
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Hi everyone,

Please, please, please tell me why I'm crazy and that this won't work. I always learn 10X more from failures than successes.

The problem with borates such as boric acid and Borax is that they are water soluble. We all know that borate treated wood is not suitable for ground contact because the boron compounds leach out. What if we were to surface treat a log, drill a 3 foot hole in the center of the log, and fill it with a boric acid/polypropylene glycol paste then cap it with a stopper? The paste would slowly leach out into the log. What would happen if we used a lime cement instead of a Portland cement to secure the log in place. The lime (calcium hydroxide) would leach into the log and react with the boric acid leaching outwards. The combination of calcium hydroxide and boric acid gives Colemanite, an almost insoluble boron containing rock. The production would be inside of the log giving extreme long-term protection from fungus and insects.

I was thinking about applying for a patent on this but hell, I'm not in this world to end up like Jeff Bezos.  Amazon makes billions but got a $173,000,000 rebate from the government? Oh, now it's time for me to do my taxes and pay for that guys Nair for his head.
 
gardener
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Interesting idea JP;    Without checking I'll accept your theory about Colemanite.
My thought is what happens to the post above that reaction ? I suspect the post would (depending on its location) wet or dry rot over time. Leaving a rock like stub in the ground that would have to be dug out.

Check out Black locust wood.  Some BL post are still supporting buildings built in the 1700's!  

 
pollinator
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I agree with you, Thomas.

Black locust is something like 10% fungicide by weight, if I remember the numbers correctly. I will peruse my posts from a few years ago and find my source material.

I like the idea of selecting posts that preserve themselves.

-CK
 
Jp Wagner
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I agree it is great to use naturally occurring woods but then again, there are a lot more straight pine trees in Arkansas than black locust. As far as dry and wet rot of the above ground sections, these would be indoors on a Wofati. It just seems like the wood preservers out there using CCA, ACQ, MCA, are charging a lot for processed wood that we could potentially use for almost nothing. Between logging, log transportation, sawing, milling, packaging, chemical treatment, drying, more transportation, stockpiling, more transportation, then retail distribution, "cut it and use it" seems like a much better option. The chance of finding enough naturally resistant wood is practically zero if a small percentage of people started using it. The existing buildings from the 1700's are probably not using black locust in ground contact situations. Those older buildings are usually on plinth blocks. If black locust lasted for 300+ years in ground contact situations we would literally have forests covered in stumps and downed black locust trees. Nature is a much better recycler than that.
 
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Burning of the submerged portion of the post is an ancient technology that works and after it rots all that's left is charcoal.
 
Jp Wagner
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I've heard for many years about charring of the wood as a preservative measure. According to long-term studies done by the University of Oregon, this is what they found:

"Charring: Charring the surface of the post is not a preservative treatment. If anything, it reduces the life of posts by reducing their size at the critical groundline area."

juniper.oregonstate.edu/post-farm.pdf


No offense to the memory of Mike Oehler but charring and wrapping in poly bags probably hurts the posts more than it helps. 100% failure rate of charred wood makes it totally unsuitable for our use. What does work are pressure treatments, creosote, and napthenate. What we need is a process that doesn't require hundreds of thousands of dollars or the use of harmful chemicals. You can buy boric acid in bulk for practically nothing along with lime cement. The process that I proposed actually uses water as a vehicle to promote the reaction of boric acid and calcium hydroxide. I wish someone had done research on this. I would hate to be the guinea pig and have 60 rotten posts in a few years. I don't think it would be any worse than Mike Oehler's structures that have lasted decades.

Does anybody know what became of all of his buildings? Does someone own them and/or live in them?

 
master pollinator
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There’s a large corner post at the back of our property. It has been there for longer than any neighbor remembers - decades. It is rock hard and solid, still difficult to drive a fencing staple into it after all these years. It will be there long after I am dead, I suspect. It is hedge, also called Osage orange.

I would love a grove of them. It burns so hot it can destroy a cheaply built stove, but in a high quality stove a little bit of hedge will heat a home far better than lesser hardwoods. It is rough on chainsaws too, which is why it’s not a common firewood for sale.
 
Jp Wagner
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There is no doubt that some woods like Osage Orange and Black Locust have outstanding records of longevity. The problem is that these types of wood are not prevalent in the amount we would need to build with on a consistent basis. We need a method of protecting fast growing softwoods, like pine, when they are used as building supports in a ground contact scenario. The method needs to be able to be performed by a landowner without specialized equipment or environmentally dangerous procedures. Maybe even a hot soak in boric acid then a room temp soak with calcium hydroxide. Theoretically it should work but I've been fooled before by putting theory ahead of practicality. I guess I could try it on the stove. The wife is going out of town for a few days to a Steampunk festival in Arizona. What she doesn't know won't hurt anyone.
 
Myrth Gardener
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I think doing some test logs and placing them in the ground would be a good idea, with an untreated log as a control. Even a short test of a year or 2 would give you an idea of whether it might work.

It’s been decades since I was in a chemistry lab. Nowadays the most chemistry I do is making soap. But that boric acid combined with the basic lime will create heat once you get a chemical reaction going. I really don’t know how strong a reaction you’ll be able to produce, given water is your proposed reagent, but wear protection, especially for your eyes and face. Just remember that acid plus base can generate a pretty violent reaction. Also, beware of gases released when the reaction gets going - do it in a well-ventilated area. I am sure you will be safe in doing it.

I am not sure how that reaction will affect the wood. It will be interesting to read about your adventure.
 
pollinator
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I love this idea.
I had read about the boric acid/ glycol paste,  and the idea if putting it it inside,  to leach outward, and u thought it an idea worth trying.
If you could get mineralization to occur,better still.
As far as charring goes,  I like the idea of lightly charring whole timbers in a retort ,  and using tars captured during the process to treat the portion to be buried.
 
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Jp, great thoughts and I hope you get it to work, would be a great thing for the entire world to have a low tech farm-level low toxicity timber preservation system.

There was a silicon-based brush on product available here a few years ago that acted as a sealant. You're system is similar in a way, using the lime to seal in the borax.  If you're initial experiments don't pan out as you like I'm wondering if the addition of something like silicon sealant to provide an additional barrier to prevent leaching of the borax might work?
 
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Hi everybody,
Very interesting subject. Old problem. I've learned that chestnut is almost rot-proof and for that reason is used for picket fences around pastures. If not 100% rot-proof it will be good for many years before needing replacement.
Another option is to give the buried section a good coat or *used* motor oil. *Used* because it's free, I guess but new would work as well. Or of tar. In the countryside, pine telephone posts are covered in tar at ground level and below.
Charring repels insects but does not protect against rot.
 
Jp Wagner
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Thanks for all the replies and ideas. I have degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry so I think I'll be fine. But you never know.  I've looked at the reaction kinetics and they aren't something to be worried about. The boric acid is very weak and it's hard to get a concentrated solution of calcium hydroxide. It may take days/weeks for the reaction to complete.

The biggest problem is testing the wood after treatment. I'm 58 years old. I'll be dead before any long-term testing would be complete. I need to have some idea if this is going to work in a months time, not years. I've already bought my skid steer, Duramax truck, and trailer. I'm heading to our property in Arkansas next month to start construction. If anybody is in the Eureka Springs area and needs help (or can give me some) let me know. You can use my skid steer if you need to move some dirt around. I'll let everyone know what I find out.
 
master steward
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Excellent topic.   One I would like to see lots, lots, lots more discussion on.

I agree that charring does not do much.  I think at best it might add 10% to the lifespan.  But I can also imagine that charring can take away 20% of the lifespan.

I agree that black locust and osage orange are the best solutions.

I choose to never use borates where the post is exposed to water.   Nor where human being or animals would touch it.   Borates have a low toxicity, but in these days of so many toxic vectors, I would rather have the wood rot than add toxins.

Here are the very best solutions for using pine, fir and larch that I know of:

PP040:  use wood that is far bigger than needed.   It will take longer to rot through

PP041:  keep the post in the ground protected from water.   So if you use a post in the ground for a structure, design the structure so water will not get to the post.

PP042:  If the dirt is not particularly sandy, throw some gravel in the hole before the pole.   If there is any moisture left in the post, or if any new moisture comes, this helps to take the moisture away rather than corking it inside the post.


Now, in the spirit of ideas and stuff ...    Here is my latest recipe for what I put in with posts that will be dry:

1 part borax
20 parts wood ash
3 parts diatomaceous earth

Mix in about two cups as the hole is being filled.   Mix in an additional half cup for the last inch of dirt at the surface.

Naturally, I would especially love to hear feedback from somebody with  degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry about my recipe.  

Mostly I am thinking that wood ash is typically quite alkaline.  With an absence of water, it won't become lye.  If a creature with moisture approaches, it would not go well for that creature.  And this would include any plant, fungus or bacteria that is thinking of bringing some rot to town.   Further, wood ash is something we have been saving and we have plenty of it.  

DE, when dry, is a dessicant and general insecticide that is safe to eat and touch by humans.

And we've already talked about borax.

I don't like mike's bags stuff.  

I never understood the desire for a cement footer or a cement collar.   And more importantly, I have very strong reservations about using cement (another story for another day).

This whole area has been so wonky and full of misinformation for so long, and I've changed my own mind so many times over the years, I cannot help but think that there is plenty of room for optimization.





 
Chris Kott
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I like Paul's idea of a protectant that reacts to moisture, and that in its dry state is lethal to vectors of decay.

But I definitely like the idea of impregnating cheap, plentiful softwoods with compounds that, in the presence of moisture, mineralise the wood's structure into colemanite.

I was wondering, though, if it might be possible to use a two-stage pressurised retort system to impregnate entire poles in a multi-stage process, whereby the structure of the whole pole is reinforced by intentional, controlled formation of colemanite within the structure of the wood without mechanically  compromising it.

In any case, I think if the ultimate in wood preservation is its deliberate accelerated petrification, this might achieve it.

-CK
 
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The solution I’m about to try isn’t exactly preserving posts in the ground, but skirting the problem in the first place. Commonly available woods rot in contact with the ground, but, especially if one is thinking about encasing in concrete anyway, why not use a standoff? If you elevate the post a short way above the ground, it isn’t in constant contact with moisture, and in theory, should last longer. That’s how a lot of very old buildings were built. Posts weren’t set directly on or in the ground, but elevated on stone blocks.

This sort of thing... Probably too expensive for miles and miles of fence, but for shorter runs, not too onerous. I saw composite examples for only $4 at my local store.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Simpson-Strong-Tie-ABA-4-in-x-6-in-ZMAX-Galvanized-Adjustable-Post-Base-ABA46Z/100375175
 
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Location: north Georgia, USA
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Maybe you should focus on the cause of rot: poor drainage, rather than looking for a rot-proof post.
Give rain water somewhere to go: dig your posthole deeper than the post and fill the bottom with gravel.
Accept that nothing lasts forever. Replace a post or two as needed.
Afterthought: Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is fairly common in your corner of the Ozarks and makes a post that will last a few years.
 
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Wood posts eh

Why do wood posts always have to be dead wood?

What if you planted a fast growing tree and used it for your wood post?

Go ahead and use your pine posts that won't last forever and plan that by the time it fails to grow a wood post to replace it.  Fast growing hybrid male poplar might be an option.

It's a post that won't ever rot in your lifetime, provide aesthetic appearance, shade, a windbrake,  compost material or fall/winter fodder for your goats and then add minerals brought up from down deep in the soil to increase top soil fertility.

A little more musing less related to the topic.

Leaves are a natural food for goats.  They love them.  Why not use them for hay for winter feeding of your goats?  For those who are opposed tu using manure in making compost, what do you think compost is?  It is something that WAS ALIVE being eaten by something that is alive, then excreted for the next living organism to do the same until the original material has been reduced to compost.  The larger the initial living organism  (goat, cow, sheep,  chicken, turkey, horse, camel, elephant) to eat the material, the faster the breakdown to compost.

Put a notice up on the bulletin board of your local hardware stores to take other people's raked,  bagged up leaves to add to your own.  Then you even end up with trash bags for your non-compostable trash that would have ended up in the dump anyway.
 
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A few years ago, some friends used this product on their house boards: http://valhalco.com/.  I purchased some of the product to use for various projects, one of which is to replace my grape arbor which fell over several years ago, after about 10 years (pine and spruce poles just stuck in the ground). I need something that can be in direct contact with roots of edible plants.  I purchased 4”x4” hemlock, but haven’t treated them yet or assembled the arbor/pergola yet so I don’t have any personal experience, but you may find this product of interest.  Although it is mostly used on above-ground wood, if you look around on the website, you will find it can also be used for fence posts.
 
Mark Trail
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Ron Millet wrote:Wood posts eh

Why do wood posts always have to be dead wood?.


Ron,
I have seen living trees used to attach barbed wire and it does work in the woods.
In a field or pasture, the trees may cast unwanted shade.
Dead wood casts less shade than living wood.
 
Ron Millet
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Mark Trail wrote:

Ron Millet wrote:Wood posts eh

Why do wood posts always have to be dead wood?.


Ron,
I have seen living trees used to attach barbed wire and it does work in the woods.
In a field or pasture, the trees may cast unwanted shade.
Dead wood casts less shade than living wood.




As in any other project, each individual has to decide whether a method is suitable for their situation or not.

Where I live in south east Arizona,  part time shade is usually welcome, it could serve as part of the silvopasture offering part time relief to both the grasses and animals in a strong sunlight area.

When I pick up a seed packet where the instructions say "Plant in full sun", they arent talking about Arizona's sun
 
Jp Wagner
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Hi Paul,

Thanks for the advice. I'm with you about the borates and water. That's been the knock against them in ground contact situations in that the leaching removes the borate. That's why I'm thinking about causing crystallization of the processed boric acid back to it's natural form, Colemanite. It's reversing the process which brings it to market but inside of a log. If it exists in nature already then the logs should be safe enough, especially if underground. I don't think the USDA has an RDA yet for boron but my guess is that it is a trace mineral our bodies need.

I also agree with you about keeping your ground contact support logs dry. I'm not sure your recipe of borax, DE, and ash will do too much. The ash is composed mainly of calcium carbonate and is not very alkaline. A lot of the chemistry of the ash depends on the growing conditions of the burned tree as well as it's species. There would be a lot of variability there. The borax will leach away from the area, probably even faster than borate in wood. The DE is only effective if dry. In-ground I'm not sure it would have an effect as it relies on individual shards cutting into the insects. I feel that mixed with soil you may just get a clump of DE mixed into the soil. Have you done any testing to see if the soil around the post is drier than the surrounding dirt? Any side-by-side testing to see if the treated dirt is protecting the posts? I'd love to know if it's helping. Another consideration is airborne spores. Fungi are notorious for it. If you don't treat above ground wood also you may be inviting rot that way. That's one of the reasons why I don't see surface treatment of wood with borates as a big problem. The borates get locked into the wood well enough to be of relatively little concern for human health.

The reason people use cement footers is physics. A Wofati or underground house is heavy, very heavy. If you look at the point loads on the posts they are usually in excess of the ability of the soil to support the load. I figure my house will have to support about 200,000 pounds. Without concrete or stone footers, the area of the posts, number of posts, and the bearing capacity of the soil, the calculations don't work out mathematically. The load has to be spread over a larger area or the posts will sink. Another reason for concrete is lateral thrust of backfill. The posts themselves may be subjected to more force than can be resisted by the surface area of the post alone. It's usually only a very small part of the post too as the force is pushing in. The only surface area you have to work with is the part of the post facing the interior of the structure. The amount of resistance decreases as the post curves too, reaching zero at the midpoint of the post. With concrete you have adhesion of the post to the concrete and a much larger surface area to resist the lateral thrust.

By using the lime cement you turn a negative into a positive. Moisture now becomes a vehicle of good rather than evil. The borates should be locked into the wood. You get axial as well as lateral support for the posts as well. Again, this is all conjecture and I may be completely wrong. Only time and testing will prove if the system is an improvement or destined for the septic system of ideas.
 
Anne Ryan
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As far as animal fencing, I like the idea, mentioned above, of planting fast-growing trees to use as fence posts. A few years ago, I visited our local fence business (Wellscroft).  David, the owner, told me that they had put up a fence and only had to put in a few (maybe 2-4?) fence posts for the large field/pasture.  The rest of the fence posts were living trees. He told me where to go to see this fenced field, which I drove up the road to see. The suggestion above, to actually intentionally plant the trees that will eventually become your fence posts is very attractive to me.  Meanwhile, you could use the trees that are there, filling in with posts you know will be temporary, as needed.  
 
thomas rubino
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I'm curious,  how are they attaching wire to living growing trees ?  Very common here with cattle drift fences, to see barb wire encased inside a living tree. It can't be good for the tree.
 
pollinator
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A couple of observations: there have been a few replies that have mentioned fence posts, telephone poles, building support posts on stone footings. However none of these are the target use, which in an earthberm/wofati is a wooden palisade as a retaining wall.

For testing the borate/lime/colemanite product, I’d put some samples through some composting. Wouldn’t this be a worst case scenario? High moisture, surrounded by decay organisms? Thinking of your membrane/umbrella has a failure and we’re looking at the second post to fail, right next to its rotted neighbor...

I like the idea of not making the wood the end all be all element here. Paul Wheaton’s wood ash soil treatment as a barrier to decay organisms is a great systems approach. Managing the water is the eternal building problem, both for decay, but in an ATI system keeping groundwater and leaching water from conducting the heat away. So, if you get the “keep it dry” part right, you are getting better results “for the system” than solving just the rot part.
 
Jp Wagner
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Daniel Ackerman wrote:The solution I’m about to try isn’t exactly preserving posts in the ground, but skirting the problem in the first place. Commonly available woods rot in contact with the ground, but, especially if one is thinking about encasing in concrete anyway, why not use a standoff? If you elevate the post a short way above the ground, it isn’t in constant contact with moisture, and in theory, should last longer. That’s how a lot of very old buildings were built. Posts weren’t set directly on or in the ground, but elevated on stone blocks.

This sort of thing... Probably too expensive for miles and miles of fence, but for shorter runs, not too onerous. I saw composite examples for only $4 at my local store.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Simpson-Strong-Tie-ABA-4-in-x-6-in-ZMAX-Galvanized-Adjustable-Post-Base-ABA46Z/100375175



Hi Daniel,

Thanks for the input. I thought about this but the problem is lateral thrust. I don't want to have to use a wood floor as they normally do in Permanent Wood Foundations to counteract the lateral thrust. Your idea is fine for axial loading but not for the lateral loading you get from backfill. In my response to Paul you can see why a Wofati or underground house needs both axial and lateral support. Also, the amount of concrete is higher if you use a concrete pier cast in-ground. Then you have the problem of connecting the wood post to a concrete pier. If you use one of the brackets from Home Depot you will see they are made of stamped 22 gauge steel, only electro-galvanized. In new condition they wouldn't supply the necessary restraining of lateral thrust from backfill. Give them a few years and that 22 gauge is now even thinner. Also, they usually rely on only two through bolts to secure the post to the bracket. This is way in excess of the point loading that wood can handle under the axial and lateral loads from an underground house. All this adds up to expense and a project that is destined to fail. The building is only as good as the weakest link. Using standoffs is fine for above ground structures but they won't work underground.

This all comes down to building a structure using components from your own property and doing it on a tight budget. We could spend thousands of dollars using trucked in concrete, stainless steel rebar and brackets, and a host of other things to make a house last for hundreds of years. We need to figure out a way that everyone can build, with only a shovel, chainsaw, and other simple tools.

I understand that wood rots because it's the natural process of things. For rot to occur you need a food source, moisture, and the right temperature, and oxygen. If you remove any of those, wood will not rot.

Food Source:   Chemical Treatement
Moisture:         Keep it under 19% MC or above 100%   i.e. Build in a desert or Venice, Italy
Temperature:   Wood lasts a long time in permafrost
Oxygen:           Another reason for building in Venice, Italy     Oxygen, being a diatomic non-polar molecule, is barely soluble in the polar substance, water.

Our only real options are to control the food source or moisture. Keeping underground wood under 19% moisture content is difficult, no matter what you do. At some points in the lifetime of the wood you will have a higher than optimal percentage. The only thing we can control, completely, is "food source".
 
Jp Wagner
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Chris Kott wrote:I like Paul's idea of a protectant that reacts to moisture, and that in its dry state is lethal to vectors of decay.

But I definitely like the idea of impregnating cheap, plentiful softwoods with compounds that, in the presence of moisture, mineralise the wood's structure into colemanite.

I was wondering, though, if it might be possible to use a two-stage pressurised retort system to impregnate entire poles in a multi-stage process, whereby the structure of the whole pole is reinforced by intentional, controlled formation of colemanite within the structure of the wood without mechanically  compromising it.

In any case, I think if the ultimate in wood preservation is its deliberate accelerated petrification, this might achieve it.

-CK



Hi Chris,

I thought about this too. The only problem is now we're looking at an industrial process with all the caveats. Lumber cutting, hauling, processing, treatment, drying, stocking, transportation to retailers, store overhead. I just read lumber is 10-15X more expensive than the bare wood due to all the steps involved before it reaches the job site. We have to get away from commercialization and get back to doing crap ourselves. The more we rely on corporations for everything the longer we stay slaves to sociopathic billionaires.  
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Jp Wagner wrote:
This all comes down to building a structure using components from your own property and doing it on a tight budget. We could spend thousands of dollars using trucked in concrete, stainless steel rebar and brackets, and a host of other things to make a house last for hundreds of years. We need to figure out a way that everyone can build, with only a shovel, chainsaw, and other simple tools.

Our only real options are to control the food source or moisture. Keeping underground wood under 19% moisture content is difficult, no matter what you do. At some points in the lifetime of the wood you will have a higher than optimal percentage. The only thing we can control, completely, is "food source".



...or control who can come to the buffet.

There’s already a lot of “inexpensive” options for using natural materials that one might gather/create for themselves on their own land: strawbale, cob, cordwood, adobe, log, stone, fired clay brick, ceramic, earthbag, sod...

Choice and application of materials such that we exploit their strengths and minimize their weaknesses has always been the name of the game...
Burying a log cabin “to keep it warm” only begins to work if you keep it “warm and dry”.
 
Jp Wagner
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:A couple of observations: there have been a few replies that have mentioned fence posts, telephone poles, building support posts on stone footings. However none of these are the target use, which in an earthberm/wofati is a wooden palisade as a retaining wall.

For testing the borate/lime/colemanite product, I’d put some samples through some composting. Wouldn’t this be a worst case scenario? High moisture, surrounded by decay organisms? Thinking of your membrane/umbrella has a failure and we’re looking at the second post to fail, right next to its rotted neighbor...

I like the idea of not making the wood the end all be all element here. Paul Wheaton’s wood ash soil treatment as a barrier to decay organisms is a great systems approach. Managing the water is the eternal building problem, both for decay, but in an ATI system keeping groundwater and leaching water from conducting the heat away. So, if you get the “keep it dry” part right, you are getting better results “for the system” than solving just the rot part.



Hi Kenneth,

Great idea on the composting. Now all I need is a compost pile. :) I'm living in suburbia just outside of Memphis at the moment. When I hit Arkansas it will be one of the first things I do.

In a perfect world you would be able to "keep it dry". Real world has it's own ideas though. Water is a very tricky substance and exceptionally hard to defeat. It's not the wet that hurts the wood but the wet/dry cycling. Only at certain points on the moisture content curve can things grow. Too much or too little moisture kills them or makes them go dormant. No matter what you do, at some point a post will get wet and be a part of the decomposition process. The only thing we can control 100% is the quality of the food source. The little buggers can't eat a rock. I think a good surface treatment with borates would be good to get the process going before putting the post in the lime cement.

I've got the boric acid and the slaked lime. I'll make up a few test pieces and see how the wood reacts. I'll have to figure out if I actually have formed Colemanite inside of the wood somehow. Maybe a microscope and diffraction patterns? It's been way to long since I had a class in geology.  

 
Daniel Ackerman
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Ah yes, I see that. I had missed that it was for an underground structure. My head’s in fences these days.
 
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Well first off selection of wood is of critical importance and pine would be the last thing I would select if I had a choice of woods. i do have osage orange and use it for picket. Lasts forever.

Second item, moisture. Without standing moisture there is no rot. Ever dug up a concrete/wood post? The post rotted at the soil line 90% of the time, the in-crete portion is usually still intact as is the portion further away from the soil line. That suggests two solutions I have learned from old timers who don't use any preservatives. If you must use crete then drop in a rock, then the post, then the crete. That seals the foot of the post. But and critically important, you must raise the crete line above the soil line by about 6" minimum, higher if you live in a snow zone. The top of the crete should have a down taper to shed water. The other approach is with using stones/gravel. Dig the hole twice the diameter of the post, post then gravel to the soil line. Only works best in soils that drain and never in hard packed clay (you just created a bucket...). One gent I knew on sloping land would drive a iron pipe sideways into the hole then withdraw it. Then pack the exit with sand permitting the water to escape.

My approach and it s a cheat, I don't use wood. I create a hole with whatever. I then drive a length of rebar into the hole. Then a piece of 2" PVC pipe. Bore and place any fastening points then pour crete down the pipe. It may not be 'green' but in places when fence line has to cross a creek or drain its better than replacing wood every 3-5 years and the loss of livestock.
 
Ben Waimata
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Jp Wagner wrote: I'll have to figure out if I actually have formed Colemanite inside of the wood somehow.




Assuming you achieve this, what do you expect will happen to the workability of the timber? Chainsaw blades, drill bits etc?
 
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Ben Waimata wrote:

Jp Wagner wrote: I'll have to figure out if I actually have formed Colemanite inside of the wood somehow.




Assuming you achieve this, what do you expect will happen to the workability of the timber? Chainsaw blades, drill bits etc?



It sounds like shaping the wood would best be done before treating it.
 
Anne Ryan
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In answer to a comment about the diversion to fencing...  the initial post didn’t state the use was for a building - just “posts,” which some of us assumed to be fence posts or posts such as my use for a grape arbor/pergola.   Eventually, it became evident, but not before some of us got fence posts on our minds.

(Also, the original post said something about drilling a three-FOOT hole in the log.  Maybe this could be edited/changed to what I assume should say three-INCH hole, to save future readers from scratching their heads over that as I initially did...)

In answer to the question about the perimeter fence I mentioned that used living trees except for a few fence posts to fill in gaps....  I took a picture of one of the trees, but don’t have access to it from this device.  A 2x4 was attached to the tree and all fencing was attached to the 2x4.  The trees were completely protected from the wires growing into them.  I have heard that if you use nails, the 2x4 can be pushed out as the tree grows, whereas screws would tend to hold the 2x4 in place, crushing it over time. I might even use a washer under the nail head to help the nail get pushed out rather than biting into the 2x4, but that’s just something I came up with on my own. I haven’t seen it done.
 
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Jp Wagner wrote: IWhat does work are pressure treatments, creosote, and napthenate.



One thing I still don't understand: if creosote forms wherever wood burns (hence the creosote deposits in chimneys), why isn't it considered acceptable in organic applications? The earth is full of fire-dependent ecosystems, which, presumably, would be rich in naturally-occurring creosote.
 
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john mcginnis wrote:Well first off selection of wood is of critical importance and pine would be the last thing I would select if I had a choice of woods. i do have osage orange and use it for picket. Lasts forever.

Second item, moisture. Without standing moisture there is no rot. Ever dug up a concrete/wood post? The post rotted at the soil line 90% of the time, the in-crete portion is usually still intact as is the portion further away from the soil line. That suggests two solutions I have learned from old timers who don't use any preservatives. If you must use crete then drop in a rock, then the post, then the crete. That seals the foot of the post. But and critically important, you must raise the crete line above the soil line by about 6" minimum, higher if you live in a snow zone. The top of the crete should have a down taper to shed water. The other approach is with using stones/gravel. Dig the hole twice the diameter of the post, post then gravel to the soil line. Only works best in soils that drain and never in hard packed clay (you just created a bucket...). One gent I knew on sloping land would drive a iron pipe sideways into the hole then withdraw it. Then pack the exit with sand permitting the water to escape.

My approach and it s a cheat, I don't use wood. I create a hole with whatever. I then drive a length of rebar into the hole. Then a piece of 2" PVC pipe. Bore and place any fastening points then pour crete down the pipe. It may not be 'green' but in places when fence line has to cross a creek or drain its better than replacing wood every 3-5 years and the loss of livestock.



Hi John,

You are mostly correct about the fence posts and rot but not for the reason you think. The posts are fine underground since they are not exposed to a large amount of oxygen. They will eventually rot as there are anaerobic decomposers but they are not nearly as efficient as aerobic ones. The post from 6" underground to the bottom of the post can have a lot of moisture and that's not really a problem. What you can't have is moisture and oxygen together. The soil allows enough diffusion of oxygen down to 6". The soil organisms are in a perfect position to destroy the wood. They have adequate moisture, plenty of oxygen to breathe, and a tasty food source. You have the same situation above ground about 6" too. The soil retains the moisture and you have plenty of oxygen and food. The wood will stay damp from the ground contact but only up about 6". I've tried the concrete up out of the ground scenario and it did help somewhat. Since concrete is basically extremely porous, the water would seep through it and into the ground. It did extend the lifetime somewhat because the soil wasn't in direct contact with the post, not because it stopped any moisture. It put a physical barrier between the soil microbes and the food source but did very little to control oxygen and moisture other than drying out faster than the soil. For the same reason I don't think gravel would extend the life of the post much. Gravel will let oxygen down deeper into the hole and let the wood rot even more. It will help with drainage so maybe it would be a wash as far as longevity.

In an earlier post on this thread, Paul said that there has been so much information, most of it misleading or incorrect, as to the causes and remedies of wood rot. You have your choices of what to eliminate to stop wood rot. Oxygen...Food...Moisture...Temperature     If you get rid of any of the four, your wood will last for centuries.
 
Jp Wagner
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Anne Ryan wrote:In answer to a comment about the diversion to fencing...  the initial post didn’t state the use was for a building - just “posts,” which some of us assumed to be fence posts or posts such as my use for a grape arbor/pergola.   Eventually, it became evident, but not before some of us got fence posts on our minds.

(Also, the original post said something about drilling a three-FOOT hole in the log.  Maybe this could be edited/changed to what I assume should say three-INCH hole, to save future readers from scratching their heads over that as I initially did...)

In answer to the question about the perimeter fence I mentioned that used living trees except for a few fence posts to fill in gaps....  I took a picture of one of the trees, but don’t have access to it from this device.  A 2x4 was attached to the tree and all fencing was attached to the 2x4.  The trees were completely protected from the wires growing into them.  I have heard that if you use nails, the 2x4 can be pushed out as the tree grows, whereas screws would tend to hold the 2x4 in place, crushing it over time. I might even use a washer under the nail head to help the nail get pushed out rather than biting into the 2x4, but that’s just something I came up with on my own. I haven’t seen it done.



Hi Anne,

Sorry about that. It actually would be a three foot hole but bored up into the bottom of the log using a very long auger drill bit. The diameter would be about an inch.
 
Trace Oswald
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Anne Ryan wrote:
(Also, the original post said something about drilling a three-FOOT hole in the log.  Maybe this could be edited/changed to what I assume should say three-INCH hole, to save future readers from scratching their heads over that as I initially did...)



Pretty sure the OP meant 3 feet deep into the log from the end.

thomas rubino wrote:
I'm curious,  how are they attaching wire to living growing trees ?  Very common here with cattle drift fences, to see barb wire encased inside a living tree. It can't be good for the tree.



I have trees all along my property lines that have grown completely around barbed wire fence.  I have one tree that has a chain grown into it.  I don't think it hurts trees to grow around something like that as long as the tree isn't damaged completely around at the same time.  It doesn't seem to stunt the tree or weaken it in any way that I have seen.  I read about some environmental group that wrapped chain and cables around trees while they were small so that they would grow into the trees and destroy the saws of people trying to log the trees.  If the stories are true, it destroyed a number of loggers as well.

Cross posted with Jp and didn't see his response about the hole...
 
Jp Wagner
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Ben Waimata wrote:

Jp Wagner wrote: I'll have to figure out if I actually have formed Colemanite inside of the wood somehow.




Assuming you achieve this, what do you expect will happen to the workability of the timber? Chainsaw blades, drill bits etc?



Hi Ben,

In a real world scenario, the post that had been converted into the Colemanite would be underground so there wouldn't be any workability problem. The moh's hardness is only 4.5 anyway and the Colemanite would be dispersed throughout more like a very fine dust, not a solid rock. It should augment the cellulose but not replace it. In every day use you probably wouldn't even know it's there.
 
Jp Wagner
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Jason Hernandez wrote:

Jp Wagner wrote: IWhat does work are pressure treatments, creosote, and napthenate.



One thing I still don't understand: if creosote forms wherever wood burns (hence the creosote deposits in chimneys), why isn't it considered acceptable in organic applications? The earth is full of fire-dependent ecosystems, which, presumably, would be rich in naturally-occurring creosote.



Hi Jason,

If a natural fire rolls through an area it's there for maybe a day or so. Also, it has access to a lot of oxygen so combustion is practically complete leaving only ash. In a fireplace you have incomplete combustion so all the nasty parts of the wood don't actually get burned but build up, year after year, on the walls of the chimney. This is all the byproducts of combustion that are normally the oily residue. It's full of nasty stuff like benzene, toluene, and many other cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Any heavy metals the trees ingested in their lifetimes end up sticking to the creosote too leaving a really nasty chemical concoction. This stuff is toxic to all kinds of life including humans. All wood has some oil in it. It is required for cell structures to survive. When a tree dies these oils remain, locked inside cell walls. When we burn the wood we release the oils and they burn but not completely. The incomplete burning process provides enough activation energy to turn these normally innocuous oils into the life-killing thing we call creosote.  
 
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