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Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Folks...

This topic has been all over the place, and I even get lost myself sometimes...so...I thought I would start this thread so folks can come here and get some of the "knows" of this vast and varied subject. Folks coming here can ask specifics and share new information if they find any so we can all learn....

I will start with a little validation...I have not seen anything "new" in 40 years of doing woodworking, and related fields of different professions I have worked in, that isn't just a "remake" of something older...Wood rots under certain conditions, and won't under others. Put wood underwater it will last 10,000 years or more if kept from perhaps any "sea going" and other pelagic 'critters' that like to borrow in it. The best wood working wood is "water logged" logs that get milled and air dried. These are much more stable, last longer when exposed and just seem to be better all the way around...If wood gets wet...it just needs to dry thoroughly and quickly or it will begin to decay. Some species much less than other...but all will rot eventually under a 'wet-dry cycle' when exposed to fungi or other wood loving organisms. I have even been lucky enough to have some deep conversations with Dendrologist that actually do nothing in there life but teach and study how long it take for wood to rot...I even follow one of the fine folks to look at a 'stump' that had been rotting for over 700 years...Like I said...some species take a long time...

So we have a choice...Design mechanical systems of joinery that allow wood to stay dry or get wet and then rapidly dry out or we can 'poison' the wood...Combined the two (chemical - mechanical) and we have an even better system (if it is needed.)

Now for the 'poison'...we can go with the "real poisonous" stuff that kills everything (including us and the environment around it) or we can chose other systems that are much less toxic. Being a traditional-natural builder, and ecologist...I chose the later...and of these we have topical and internal methods with the second being virtually impossible to achieve effectively so we will focus primarily on the first.

External Surface Treatments are broken down into topical liquid applications of minerals, oils, and botanicals, and mechanical structure change...These liquid forms are acidic, base, and polymer barriers for the most part some actually molecularly bonding and/or changing the structure of the wood so as to render it less prone to attack by decaying organisms. The mechanical is a carbonizing which I covered in the post thread titled Yakisugi (grilled cedar) 焼き杉 - Charring Wood as a Finishing Modality.

So lets move into these treatments as they are available to use today.

Oils come in many forms. Of the types used in 'preserving wood' Cedar Oil and Pine Tar Oils are the most common and effective though there would seem to be other proprietary varieties that are employable but much less common or easy to obtain and work with. Some products are heavily industrialized with additives and are very toxic! All natural "drying oils" (i.e. flax, tung, walnut, etc) have some positive effects all by themselves. Pine Tar Oil is probably one of the best and oldest yet does drastically changed the color of wood.

Next we move into Botanical formulas and their proprietary manufacture. These blends, by themselves are not that good, all have "repelling" or inhibiting elements. Yet by themselves are not worth going into nor are any of the formulas available for public knowledge anyway as most are family or copyright protected. I know many of these as a singularity they do not work for long as they do not have the durability or effects that just oils alone would.

Next, and the largest most effective group of natural treatments...minerals. These are predominantly different varieties of mineral salts...some can be very toxic in various concentrations, and here I will try to not recommend but suggest and offer for consideration different brands one may chose to try. Please note these are not recommendation or suggestions just information...

Two of the most common that have been around my entire life are ECO Wood Treatment and Life Time Wood Treatment. Both...can be...effective or partially so...both are more hyped than well described...They are both "proprietary" formulas that have both minerals and other botanical elements in the formulation matrix. The MSDS for both (EWT MSDS and LTWT MSDS) do not give specifics and there is both lawsuits and other legal regulations about this. They keep it all at bay because those of us that learn more about them are simply not that impressed.

Do they work...well I would have to say yes they do...on some woods better than others and some very well. However they drastically age the wood and change its appearance drastically to an off gray to green to even black patina, and this was the first clue to what is the primary "chemistry" that is going on with these to products.

I am certain (now basically know) that these products contain some form of iron salt (iron sulfate) and is the same or chemically similar to each other. The MSDS for both do not give the exact ingredients, nevertheless the decomposition byproduct is listed is Sulfur Dioxide (SO2). SO2 is a decomposition byproduct of Iron Sulfate. Iron Sulfate is used as a chemical dye, reacting with mordants such as tannic acid found in tannin rich wood species thus forming a compound called iron tannate yielding a silvery gray to brown to almost charcoal appearance based on solution strength and tannic acid levels in the wood being treated. Iron Sulfate is also used as a lawn application to control moss, so I would suggest that it's preserving properties would relate to Iron Sulfate possibly inhibiting the growth of wood decaying organisms such as moss, algae, and fungi on or within the wood. I could go on...but the primary information is covered and the bottom line is this is a preservative just like many others, it does work, but is not the "holy grail" that advertising makes it out to be. Again...good design and traditional modalities are of equal or better value and these are only a simple augmentation to traditional methods.

Here is a good place to share an old text that should be in any traditional builders library: The French Polishers Hand Book copyright 1910 It also mentions sulphates of iron or 'green copperas' which is also (or a family of salts there of) in the two products referenced above.

The next big group is the borates. Armor-Guard Borate Wood Preservative is one of the most common of these products with its MSDS found here. Its active ingredients are disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (also know as boron sodium oxide) is an alkaline salt also and is not to be confused singularly with 'boric acid.' The advantages of this algaecide, fungicide and insecticide is these salts are much safer over conventional pest control and fungal treatments They are well studied and are non-carcinogenic and has a low toxicity to humans and pets. It is also odorless and proper application lasts for the lifetime of the wood. Repeat treatment is not usually necessary. It is best used during new construction as this is the opportune time to reach all areas effectively.

Boric acid and borates in general, unlike most industrialized pesticides and fungicides are common naturally occurring compounds. Like most pesticides however, they can cause health problems if an individual is overly exposed. Laboratory studies have identified a variety of health effects caused by exposure to these compounds, particularly at high doses rates. Yet this can be said of over exposure to Cedar oil which is highly toxic as many botanical compounds are. At the same time, boron is an essential nutrient for many plants and other living things. Bottom line...too much of anything is bad!

With any of the above materials common sense, following directions and/or professional assistance is strongly advised!

That should be good for now. I will add more as I filter through my files and books and folks 'jog' my memory with questions....
 
Robert Woden
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I have a five gallon bucket of dry flaky WOOD (not coal) creosote from my neighbor's chimney cleaning. I was wondering about using it as a wood preservative. A little research tells me it isn't as effective as the toxic coal-tar creosote but it is still somewhat? Does anyone have any recipes for making some sort of stain out of it, perhaps mixing it with linseed oil and turpentine? The less toxic the better. Or is this just not worth my time. Also, i'm not too concerned with discoloring the wood, just want it to last. The timbers I want to treat are relatively young tulip poplars with alot of sapwood.

Thanks
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Robert Woden, I have merged your topic into this topic. I hope that helps.

There are many methods for attempting what you would like to do...I would suggest and love if you did some experimenting and would be so kind to post pictures here of your results. As for labor saving...it really isn't. This is going to be work...fun work...but work none the less.

You need a drying (or carrying) agent. Citrus oil is one, denatured alcohol is another, or turpentine and the flakes must be dissolved in this fluid to a saturation level as high as possible. Then it can be used straight or with another oil like flax, tung, walnut or a blended system of oils and waxes. One example of a very old and tried blend is pine rosin, beeswax, citrus oil, tung oil and flax oil.

I would probably recommend something from above or just an oil blend...instead of making something...but I understand the need to 'create'...

Don't be mistaken...this is toxic even though naturally formulated and is also carcinogenic...do not get on your skin very often if working with this and where a OCEA certified respirator...

I need more info about the project besides wood species to be of further help...you may need nothing at all...

Regards,

j
 
siu-yu man
Posts: 99
Location: zone 6a, north america
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came across a process to preserve wood yesterday that i thought was interesting -- torrefaction
http://www.torrefactionplus.ca/torrefied-wood.php#procede

i'm assuming special kilns are required though, so it's more a consumer product over a DIY project. also, according to the link, torrefied wood is not to be used for structural purposes.
personally prefer the old-school charring methods Jay has linked, but thought it'd be worthwhile to include the above to learn more about the processes involved.

have a old chimney filled with creasote to clean out, so also gonna experiment with the technique you've been discussing at some point.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Siu-Yu,

I am glad torrefaction was shared...even though it is only a drying process, not a preservation modality...Thank you..

Torrefaction helps me, once more, emphasis the huge carbon footprint that many in the construction industry has, the resources they overconsume just to accelerate a process to make profit faster and render a natural material into something that is no longer natural at all. Torrefaction is actually a mild form of pyrolysis which decomposes the wood by the very high temperatures. This not only weakens the wood but is entirely unnecessary, as wood always does better (if doing really refined woodworking that is) if it drys very, very slowly in the natural air. I could go a step farther as suggest that it actually does better if put "under water" for a minimum of 3 years (300 to 3000 is really special wood) then milled to rough dimension and air dried.

Most of the concepts developed today have more to do with speeding up profit and reducing wood into a more homogenous (even if it destroys part of the wood in the process) material. That way anybody, regardless of skills sets, can work with this "pseudo-plastic wood" as they don't have to understand species characteristics, growth patterns, grain, etc...Then anyone can take the pseudoword industrialize it further with machines and chemicals...

Thanks again for sharing this, as folks need to really know what they are getting and get clear answers...not sales pitches!

j
 
siu-yu man
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hi Jay, thanks for clarifying this. one of those things that initially looked appealing, but raised a bunch of intuitive redflags once i read that it made the wood "unstructural". i actually found it on a tangent when reading about torrefaction as a process to create "wood pellets 2.0" . this however is a subject that belongs in another post in another section. will perhaps post a topic once i listen to a webinar on it next week.

what i'm finding fascinating is how fire + wood react with each other in so many different ways to result in so many different compositions on the scale between preservation & decomposition. as you note, wood + water as well. it's all a delicate balance between the five elements. something that those builders in the past very well understood obviously, before petrochemicals made us all lazy and forgetful. Venice alone blows me away when thinking about how the entire city sits on top of waterlogged timber (sidenote: i wonder if the brackishness of the water there is a major contributor to wood preservation in this case).

do you have experience with beech, either to preserve as a building material and/or as a preservative for other woods? i ask this for 2 reasons: (1) it's used for cutting boards as it has antimicrobial properties, (2) around here, it's quickly becoming the dominant species in the woods due its resilience against deer penetration and because the forest is moving into climax (beech/maple over oak/hickory). obviously, if one were to work with nature vs. trying to fight it back, it would be wise to find productive uses for beech, especially since it coppices/suckers so profusely.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I was planning on a section in 'woodworking' profiling different species this year as folks asked questions like above...thank you...Beech will be the first...
 
Berni Cam
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Hi all,

My wife and I are currently building a house. I have been researching wood sealers and came across a company called "Seal It Green Sealants" www.sealitgreen.com

Does anyone have any experience with their products? Do you, Jay C. White Cloud, have any idea which of the categories you outlined in your post this product might fall under?

Thanks for the help. And thanks for starting this thread!
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Berni,

I would suggest that this product line is like so many others of modernity and the manufacturers that have jumped on the “green product” bandwagon. In short a “whitewashing” of either old products and/or a “rebranding” of something heavily industrialized.

Here is what I teach students about effective ways to “unravel” whether a product actually warrants consideration.

1. Check how long they have been around and who actually owns them the company.

2. Are they straight forward and very transparent about their products or do they make you search for info about it that answers your questions well. If you have to go to the MSDS documents...they are not clear and are...usually...rebranding something that already exists in a less “p.c.” format for the current market trends.

3. Look at the MSDS no matter what else you read. Learning to understand and read these will open your eyes to a lot of industrialized hype and advertising misdirection.

I did this for you on this product...here is what I discovered.

They seem to “re can” a tung oil…??...So what?? We can buy pure tung oil from better sources.
The other active materials, according to the MSDS are:

Naphtha in one of its adulterations…

8-Hydoxyquinoline...O.K...I can live without that and the industries that make it...I don’t really see this as a vast improvement over what is already being used (and has been) for the last 500 years…

Hope that helped. If you have additional query, please email me at tosatomo@gmail.com.
 
Bill Bradbury
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I personally don't use any sealers besides shellac and wax. I prefer no sealers at all as they generally cause failures when the wood is wetted.

If you want a natural pre-packaged finish, look to the many oil finishes on the market.
 
Petya Doneva
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Location: Sofia, BULGARIA
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hi all,
I'd be happy to know more about wood preservatives depending on different types of wood.
We want to build a porch, pergola and decking around our house. We are going to take Siberian larch for the porch and we choosed it because it hardly rots. But my concern is the UV protection. Fortunately, where I live, they sell the natural oils of OSMO http://www.osmo.de/navigate.do?id=413&name=UV-Protection-Oil&lang=en
Our other concern is that oiling should happen quite often (at least once/year).
I like the natural colour of the wood but it won't stay long without UV protection.
So my questions are:
- is Yakisugi appropriate for larch for exterior use and does it need additional protection (maybe only flax oil) ?
- does larch need treatment with fungicide/insecticide?
- can I rely on natural oils (with UV protection like the OSMO oil) to protect the larch from UV rays?
- can one make oils with UV protection - Jay C. have wrote a lot of information about oils (and his favorite Heritage Natural Finishes) and there was a thread in permies (http://www.permies.com/t/24462/timber/recipes-treating-wood - " throw some flower petals or brown oak leaves into the mix") with ideas for UV protection - someone tried it? or other ideas?
- is Yakisugi appropriate for other wood species for exterior use, esp. pergola - here pine is most popular (with all its troubles to conserve it), there are spruce beams imported from abroad (BSH „brettschichtholz “). May be one can find oak and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) (used for deckings and garden posts but most of all for heating - burnt in home stoves! )
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Petya...Welcome

is Yakisugi appropriate for larch for exterior use and does it need additional protection (maybe only flax oil) ?


Yakisugi can be applied to any type of wood and even some other materials as well...

Larch (if speaking of Larix ssp) is typically rank high in decay resistance between the Cypress/Cedars/Junipers and the Hemlocks..

- does larch need treatment with fungicide/insecticide?


Depends on application, in most cases it does not other than proper design that allows thorough drying between wet periods.

- can I rely on natural oils (with UV protection like the OSMO oil) to protect the larch from UV rays?


UV degradation is strictly aesthetic...and the long term effects to the wood are minimal compared to wind driven particulates.

- can one make oils with UV protection - Jay C. have wrote a lot of information about oils (and his favorite Heritage Natural Finishes) and there was a thread in permies (http://www.permies.com/t/24462/timber/recipes-treating-wood - " throw some flower petals or brown oak leaves into the mix") with ideas for UV protection - someone tried it? or other ideas?


Yes, but it typically is not a DIYer level project. However, any pigment or solid material added to a finish become part of the finishes "sacrificial layering nature" and therefore affords further UV protection, but as mentioned also changes the look of the natural wood.

- is Yakisugi appropriate for other wood species for exterior use, esp. pergola - here pine is most popular (with all its troubles to conserve it), there are spruce beams imported from abroad (BSH „brettschichtholz “). May be one can find oak and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) (used for deckings and garden posts but most of all for heating - burnt in home stoves! )


All can have Yakisugi applied...
 
Stephane Albert
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I am finishing a piece sur piece home and want to treat the interior logs with Hemp oil. My friend is one of the major producers in quebec and eastern canada.
We want the house to be somekind of demo.

Would it be better to mix it with something else to help it dry or harden? A siccative of some sort?
If so which are not toxic.
It's hard to understand what is what

Thank you for all your info!
 
Thomas Morogobo
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Location: Cascadia
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Jay,

Apologies if this is in the wrong thread, I see you are recently active in this one.

Ive been reading through a bunch of your threads and Im fascinated by your approach to ventilation, timber building and moisture. Some of the threads Ive been able to understand and some have been too technical for me. I am planning on building a wooden mobile tiny house and I want to work with the moisture by having a breathable structure rather than attempting to seal it and inevitably trapping moisture in my walls and insulation (probably natural wool).

Although I have millions of questions I can boil them down to one: Can you point me to some essential reading material for building in this way? There must be a bible or some books which describe this tried and true philosophy of construction in detail. All I seem to find online is endless industry misinformation dubiously labeled as "green building."

Thank you.

Thomas
 
Terry Ruth
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The dynamics of breathable envelopes very few understand since it is complex that is why we find very little in building codes and more on easier to understand highly insulated building's, steady state flow values such as “r-value’. Code points us to pro’s to do the analysis.

What you find mostly on the internet are long winded post from people that may understand some of the basic principles but, have never done the analysis backed by proven tested designs. Most of these ‘advisors’ will not take liability for their advice and will lead people into a home that will end up either too cold or too hot or uncomfortable for the poor homeowner to fix that can cost 1000’s.

There are two choices,

1. Guess and hope for the best, same as listening to most internet advisors.
2. Hire the proper professional(s) that understand the physics and chemistry in depth and can run the models that are based on empirical evidence for the specific job site and climate zone. WUFI moisture transport is popular software and there are others, although it lacks natural materials and is only as good as the person running it.

George Swanson has a good book called "breathable walls" and I have a thread on it here: It is high tech with lots of testing(proof): http://www.permies.com/t/43637/natural-building/Breathable-Walls

It also covers how to treat wood properly.
 
Thomas Morogobo
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Thank you very much for the reply Terry. I will get that book.

I am curious what an example of a traditional envelope for a wood-framed building was- excluding cobb or plasters just as a hypothetical (since I want to build on a trailer and that would probably creating a cracking hazard).

Was it as simple as wood ext siding, sheeps wool, wood int siding?

I know this is a gross oversimplification and you have an expert's knowledge and detail-oriented approach, but is that a fair statement or at least a starting point for ideas?
 
Stephane Albert
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Jay and others,

You mentionned mixing pine resin, linseed oil, citrus oil, tung oil, beewax

What is the method to mix and what are the proportions.

I am planning to home mix a finish oil for floors.
Heres the recipe i am envioning and method of mixing:
I will melt 1/3 carbauna wax to 2/3 beewax and dilute in citrus oil.
I will mix this 1 part to 5 parts hemp oil
(Could be linseed oil or/and tung, as mentionned higher up i have access to low cost hemp oil)
Then i'll dilute with citrus oil and add little siccative( lead free)
Some manufacturers add essential oils like rosemary, fir and others.
Are these only for helping the produce to shelf better or do they have other benefits.

Any help and info on home mixed formulas would be highly appreciated.
 
tomas viajero
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I built my first Timber Frame in 1983. It was a Pine frame. Before raising, I put on Linseed Oil, nothing more. The timbers have retained their nice warm honey color to this day. With subsequent frames for the next several years,of Pine, Hemlock, and Oak, I used only Linseed Oil. Customers were very happy.
In the late 80's I came across a manufacturer of a Linseed Oil/Beeswax blend that was really wonderful. We used that for several years. I can't find it anymore.
In the early 90's a product out of Germany was very popular and we started using that. It was really great to work with because it was non-toxic, had a great aroma, was absorbed well, good coverage. Only problem was that it didn't work very well. Stained on contact with metal and stained from water(a problem for oak).
The last frames I made were sealed with just Linseed Oil.
Tried and True. Still works. Readily available.
 
Brett Hammond
Posts: 76
Location: Maryland, USA
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solar tiny house woodworking
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Hi Jay,

What a tremendous resource. Thank you for writing this!

I love the natural look of wood, both freshly cut and the beautiful orange and brown patina of aged wood. I would prefer a safe preservative that didn't darken the wood much at all, as pine tar oil does, so I was looking into cedarwood oil and came across this product:

http://www.cedaroilnm.com/preservative.html

It is cedarwood oil combined with solvents and silicone, and claims to remove water from the wood by off-gassing, thereby dimensionally stabilizing the wood and somewhat petrifying it. It also doesn't need periodic re-application, as some natural preservatives do.

I followed the link on that page to the MSDS and it looks fairly benine, but there are some compounds listed I don't understand. What do you think of it?

What would you use on your house if you were building a log cabin or Wofati? Would you coat the entire log or just the outside? I have no specific project in mind, but am doing research for future application. Thanks!


 
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