Lots of ways to do it but I like to go the cheap, easy and simple way when it works. First is finding the "correct" wood. If you don't want to work with waiting or removing tannins that color the water, get the truly dry stuff. Tannin is found most directly under the bark and wood will dry from the outer layer to inner, so step one is often to avoid wood with bark. Wood lasts best if it is not starting to rot but that is also a matter of how you want to look at things. I do often pick some wood that is starting to rot but also remove the softer stuff as it may begin to turn loose and float around. Rot can work but it does promote more debris which is not a good thing for tank work?
I prefer to pick only that wood that is left up off the ground so flooded zones are good as it often leaves stuff, high and dry, hanging in trees, etc. Learning where to pick is helpful so I do some search on Google maps if I'm in anew area. I look for lakes where things pile up in coves. In much of the US, that is often the North and East side due to prevailing wind. If I can see wood piled in coves on the online maps, I look for easy, short access as I don't want to walk back 2 miles with wood on my back!
Know how to find the totally dry. Not just like dry last year but totally dry! Then I don't worry about the species. I do find I can use cedar and some of the trees we hear bad things about but it does have to be TOTALLY dry. I also have good, hard, alkaline water that gives me lots of buffer. Other water, the effect may vary.
I find dry wood is normally light colored, even in type like oak so I look for sun bleached white stuff that is lighter than when wet. I personally like the old gnarly weathered type that is really old. If in doubt, I cut and end off and look for a uniform color from outside to in as that is the way it dries. There will be places around knots which still have color but that is okay for my use.
I do a good long overnight bleach soak to assure it is safe just as if I were eating off it! Rinse and dry and good to go. No nonsense with things that soak in but don't dry out. That is promoted by folks who never washed and bleached diapers!
I add weight rather than wait for months for it to water log. I get free travertine tile from suppliers as they often have left over types that are stacked out in back. The travertine is expensive to buy but it is also very easy to drill!
Last edited by PlantedRich; 12-22-2017 at 02:40 PM.
Reason: added info