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Wood, Leather + Humidity = Mold. Oil sealing a solution?

 
Hal Terran
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Here in the North American South East, humidity is very high.

In this living arrangement there is no A/C used and the windows are always open. Consequently, the humidity inside is very high.

Books are molding. Leather is molding. Home made woodware is molding!

This thread is a little about natural methods of killing mold, but more so about preventing mold, and sealing or treating things such as wood and leather, perhaps with oils, to prevent mold.

The answers searched are:

What are some natural methods of killing mold?

What are natural methods of curing/sealing/finishing wood to prevent mold? Any special oils or methods?

What are natural methods of curing/sealing/finishing leather? Any special oils?
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5614
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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We have a similar humidity challenge...windows open all spring, summer and fall. I think the thing that makes the biggest difference for us is wood heat for five or six months of the year. I think it dries the house back out for the next six months of humidity. Are you able to keep the air circulating with fans? We lived briefly with gas heat and noticed that it added a lot of humidity to the house and then we had musty books, leather shoes, etc.
Some finishes on wood and leather can actually grow mold I think...like raw linseed oil.
I hope you get some good answers to your question
 
Hal Terran
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Thank you Judith!

There is minimal air circulation, though enough for comfort. There is a natural breeze that goes through the house.

It is very, very humid outside.

Linseed oil can cause mold? I'm familiar with linseed oil being used to seal wood. One would think it would prevent mold.

Internet "research" bring up Tea Tree Oil as "the most effective mold killer"

If there is any truth to this, one would expect treating leather with Tea Tree Oil would prevent mold.

(To keep leather in good health, it is typically treated periodically with oils)

It would be nice to hear from anyone with more experience Linseed and Tea Tree Oil.

I will treat my leather shoes with Tea Tree Oil once I have aquired some and report in with the results.

Seeing its effects should be easy as many of our leather shoes mold every couple of days.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Limewash was typically done inside the house for keeping mold at bay. But it isn't plain wood anymore.

Have you tried Borax? 1 cup of borax dissolved in a gallon of hot water and then used in a spray bottle as a cleaner. It can leave a little white haze on some stuff, but that haze keeps mold from coming back.

I wouldn't think you need to use straight tea tree oil, but adding it to a wood or leather oil sounds like a good idea. Maybe there is another additive that will change the pH of wood and leather surfaces so they will not support mold.

 
Bill McGee
Posts: 185
Location: Southeastern Connecticut, USA
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Do you have ridge venting on the roof? You can also have attic fans and/or large fans in upper floor windows to create a chimney effect thru the house. Builditsolar.com has some good articles on chimney effect air flow. I woulder if citric solvents and cleaning solutions could help?
 
John Elliott
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Maybe there is another additive that will change the pH of wood and leather surfaces so they will not support mold.


Good luck. No matter what chemical you try, there is a fungus (mold) out there that can eat it. That's the downside of living in a world where things recycle -- if you want to keep something from the natural methods of recycling, you have to break the metabolic triangle. You all know the fire triangle, right? Fuel, oxygen, source of ignition? Well there is a metabolic triangle for fungal decomposition: food, moisture, spores. In the case of preserving your wood or leather, the food, you have to get rid of one of the other two. Now since spores are airborne and can and do get anywhere and everywhere, that leaves getting rid of the moisture.

In the winter, heating naturally dehumidifies the inside of houses, but in the summer, the only way to dehumidify the inside of the house is to close the windows and turn on the dehumidifier or the A/C. Oh, there are chemical dessicants you can use, but that's only good for a small volume, say a cedar chest or a trunk, or a hermetically sealed bag.

I live in a particularly interesting area of the South, as we get a combination of pine sap aerosols, humidity and spores that make it possible for mold to grow just about anywhere -- like on my white truck -- and the house siding. That's why pressure washing is so popular in this area; a little soap and bleach and high pressure water and your house looks like it was repainted. Bleach is the standard for killing fungal spores -- oxidizes them out of existence. Maybe you have read about seed treatments where a short soak in a dilute bleach solution was one of the steps? This is why.

I would suggest that you make some compromise between being totally natural and taking advantage of modern dehumidifier/air conditioning technology. There are small closet sized dehumidifiers, and you could keep the things you value and don't want to get mold in there with the door closed and the dehumidifier running.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Second the borax, and you can also use peroxide, but it doesn't leave a resistance layer.

Linseed oil needs to be clean, but if you use boiled, it works great on wood.

Old Euro surplus, treated with glycerine, actually pulls moisture out of the air, and deposits it into leather. Need to add an inhibitor to it for mildew, but the best leather treatment i ever found. In the desert, i am using soysoft lotion, with glycerine and soy waxes. Best ever, but it would be mildew food down there..

I have also seen the lime plasters used extensively ,especially in s.w. usa, and europe, and they don't seem to have a mildew problem, or a waterlogging problem, if you don't mix in cement. Great article on the Nat Park Service website about it.
 
michael crow
Posts: 13
Location: Southern IL zone 6B
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We are currently battling mold in our home. I think it is making my partner sick, possibly has been for years. Currently I'm using bleach+water in a spray bottle (which she is allergic to). Anyone know a good concentration of the bleach? can you just spray the mixture on with a mist and not have to worry about wiping it off? I was concerned that possibly spraying without wiping it off is adding moisture and possibly can cause problems to the whole situation.

We are considering getting air conditioning/dehumidifier, but we are on a super low wattage solar system, so that would require us plugging into the grid, using the dreaded coal fuel and spending money. hmmm..... we are considering building a new home. Is there any natural building techniques/materials that are known to be particularly mold resistant? I would love to live mold free post industrial collapse and we don't want to leave our humid bioregion!!!

Love.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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If it is black mold, it is carried in the water supply, and is tolerant of bleach.

Use peroxide instead.

 
Lyvia Dequincey
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I think FEMA no longer recommends bleach for mold. It often kills the surface mold, but fails to penetrate, so the mold comes right back.

I think that the answer will be a more efficient dehumidifier. The issue with geothermal air cooling is that it condenses water - sounds like a dehumidifier to me. I would like to move the air outside, let it condense outside, and then let cool dry air back in.

We have an issue in our garage, which is largely underground. When the doors are opened and the hot humid air meets the cold underground wall, dampness gets everywhere. We are now running a dehumidifier 24/7, and hope to get more "green" someday (maybe a dc solar dehumidifier, since it is a summer issue), but meanwhile, I have a garage full of moldy stuff, and I need to get a respirator before I can go out there. Such a mess.

Good luck to all facing this.
 
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