Planted Tank Obsessed
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Des Moines, Iowa, USA
I've used long dead cedar roots before because they have good color and look super gnarly!
I soaked it all and threw away pieces along the way if they got too soft. The densest and hardest pieces were left after about 2 months.
I discovered through experimentation that you can cut the soak time down to about 1/4 by adding lots of baking soda to the water throughout the process. It will react with the acids and foam and fizz.
The baking soda neutralizes some of the acids and allow more to be leached out in a shorter period of time.
Boiling works wonders if a piece is small enough. Fill a pot with water, throw in the wood and something to hold it down, boil for awhile, dump stained water, add more water, keep boiling. Repeat that for about 3 hours or until it won't leech much more color.
The resins and sap crystallizes when the wood dies so the boiling melts it and heats the air inside of the wood, forcing it out, and allowing water to penetrate the wood very quickly. I also store smaller specimen pieces of driftwood in large ziplock bags by boiling them and putting them in the bag and then pouring the boiling water into the bag. That way the wood and the water is sterile so no fungal or bacterial growth occurs and you can save the wood for use even a year later. Great for Moving!