It needs to be hard wood. As in oak > pine. Not rotten. It needs to be sans bark. Brush it with a stiff bristle brush under running water... Then boil/bake or bleach it... Clean it up again, dechlor bath if needed... Waterlog it...
Some woods release sap and some other gunk that will cause problems..
no, it is soft and sappy.. a rule of thumb is to take your thumb nail and try and mar the wood. if the wood is soft like a pencil, discard it.
Thanks for the tip! So basically if my finger nail doesn't scratch it then it should be tank safe?
Once you have the wood, to "prepare it" I read people will boil it or just let it soak, if you find a good size piece would pouring hot kettle water into a 5G bucket and letting it soak for a few days do the trick?
no you need to boil it for like 5 minutes kettle water won't do it has to kill parasites and if it's from the lake or river 75% chance of parasites and algae. Ideally to prepare driftwood it should be soak for 1 month if not already water logged. Soaking also shows how much colour seeps out.
So a guy walks into a Pet Store
Guy: "I have Algae on my drift wood!"
Pet Clerk: "Take two Plecos and call me next week."