How to Sterilize Large Pieces of Wood? - The Planted Tank Forum
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Missouri
Posts: 398
How to Sterilize Large Pieces of Wood?

Hi:

I am setting up my first biotope (yay) - 29 gallon blackwater Rio Negro.

I am collecting driftwood. Along with a friend, I have shaved the bark from the collected wood pieces.

Usually, I boil everything, but I of course cannot fit these large pieces on top of the stove in a pot.

How does one sterilize large pieces of wood then? Bake it? Bleach it?

I really want to get moving on this tank and I am soaking leaves I collected, but as for this wood, it is shaved and just looking forlorn.

Thanks!

dbw
dbw27 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 01:55 PM
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: St. Clair, MO
Posts: 29
If it still had bark, I would be leery of it. Bark is the first to go off of driftwood. I wouldn't think it has bee submerged for a long time. If you do take the chance, I would let it soak for at least a few weeks in water. Keep changing the water when it turns tea colored. Sometimes, it takes a very long time to leach all the tannins out of wood.
studda is offline  
post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 02:42 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Posts: 11,721
Put the wood inside a plastic tarp in the sun. Google Solarize for the details. Basically, you know how hot it gets in the car in the full sun? Use that concept to 'cook' the wood. It really works!
Diana is offline  
 
post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 03:53 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PlantedRich's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 11,904
I like to do the full job when I clean things. It is the one way to " reset" all the hazards that might/might not be there. Bugs vermin or various fungus are pretty easy to kill and heat will possibly do it. But it does take a tremendous amount of heating to reach the inside of a piece of wood that is even 4" thick where a snail might have laid eggs. Wood is a pretty good insulator so how long does it take to penetrate to the center? Much longer than I want to wait or keep an oven going.
Oil and pesticides can also be on wood, even when we don't see it. When you warm oil it moves around but doesn't truly come out of the wood.
A simple, easy way to clean large wood that won't fit in a pot is bleach soaking. It has the advantage of actually eliminating oils as well as sterilizing organic things like bugs, fungus, etc. The chlorine reacts with oily stuff so that it is no longer oil.
Bleach soaking is the way the DNR specifies to clean the inside of water towers, etc. after a dozen guys have worked in them so it should do the job for us.

Simple method? Whatever size container that will hold the wood, plastic or metal will do.
Fill with water and then guess/estimate how much bleach will be needed to clean the item. There is no firm answer to how much as it depends on how much dirt, etc. it reacts with while soaking. A half cup or cup full will do in most cases. The only real point is that you do want to have enough to react with all the grime it finds. If you are soaking a tree stump you will want more than if you are soaking a filter sponge to clear it of disease.
A cup of bleach may eat a sponge but if I want to clean a stump, I just use plenty as I'm sure the wood will be there well after all the chlorine has reacted with the wood. No danger of it setting in the wood. Chemical reactions happen as long as the two items are together. Chlorine can't hold it's breathe and come out later!
A soak of 8-10 hours will almost always be enough time for the bleach to reach the center of things but it never hurts to let it soak until you get back around to the project. When you take it out and rinse it, you dilute any remaining bleach down to near the same level as drinking water might have. You can use a dechlor product if you are really rushing but a simple way is to just set the item back and let it dry. When you no longer smell bleach, all the chlorine has gassed off and you are done.

Two important safety items to remember are the type of bleach and don't get it on things like clothing. Use simple, cheap, bleach that doesn't have colors or scents added. We just don't need the question of what those additives might be. If you splash straight bleach on clothing while pouring it, you WILL have holes in your clothes.
When storing bleach, close the lid tight and store it in a cool spot and it will have a shelf life of 6-12 months before the chlorine is gone.
PlantedRich is offline  
post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 04:02 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (7/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Merriam, Ks
Posts: 1,949
I just throw mine in the dishwasher without soap and let it run. Seems to do the trick ok.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Italionstallion888 is offline  
post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 04:07 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
Aplomado's Avatar
 
PTrader: (3/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 920
I use an autoclave at work. Works great.
Aplomado is offline  
post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 04:39 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Cape Coral, Florida
Posts: 1,286
Ask around, I bet someone has a turkey fryer (empty of course, to fill with water, not peanut oil!). Or big pots for cooking lobster. Or even big metal tubs (if you don't mind some soot) you can put on a grill.

Boiling water is boiling water, doesn't have to be on a stove.

Just remember for really thick wood that a long, long heat soak is necessary if you want to get deep into it hot. Wood is a decent insulator. With a couple of water changes if it gets really brown (assuming you want to get the tannins out). Simmer, not hard boil.

If you bake it I'd try to stay at 190 or so, don't get to boiling (or at least don't get there fast) to prevent pockets of water from breaking and weakening the wood. I've heard people say it will explode, not sure I quite believe that, but dry heat on soaked-through wood is likely to do some internal damage that might make it not last as long in the tank.
Linwood is offline  
post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Missouri
Posts: 398
Hi everyone:

Thanks so much! Okay. I wish I had an autoclave -wow. I wish I could solarize but it keeps raining here. I really need to get this tank set up before school starts in 2.5 weeks (grad student - which is why I am picking everything from like the local park - I can't afford to buy stuff).

I do have a big lobster pot because I love blue crab and it is not big enough. I do have a grill and a dishwasher.

Okay so this is what I plan to do. I plan to put it in the dishwasher without soap. (Thanks ItalianStalian888). Then I plan to do the bleach method (thanks PlantedRich for that detailed explanation) although I am not sure I have anything big enough for it.

I am doing a blackwater tank. I want the tannins. The more tannins the better. I was only going to boil to sterilize.

Thanks again.

dbw
dbw27 is offline  
post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 05:54 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (7/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Merriam, Ks
Posts: 1,949
if you just want to sterilize it and keep the tannins for the tank, get a 1g bucket, fill it with a vinegar, bleach water mixture, dip the wood or a sponge in the liquid and wipe down the wood. I did this with my manzanita as I didn't want to boil or put the wood under hot water. Use a semi rough sponge and give it a good scrubbing.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Italionstallion888 is offline  
post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 06:02 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Cape Coral, Florida
Posts: 1,286
Bleach + vinegar = gas warfare

Quote:
Originally Posted by Italionstallion888 View Post
if you just want to sterilize it and keep the tannins for the tank, get a 1g bucket, fill it with a vinegar, bleach water mixture,
No, no no... never mix vinegar and bleach together. Both are good, separately.

Example warning and explanation:

http://chemistry.about.com/od/toxicc...nd-Vinegar.htm

More general set:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/16-com...ould-never-mix

A more scholarly treatment if you don't want to believe social media type sites:

http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/cehsweb/bleach_fs.pdf
Linwood is offline  
post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 06:08 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (7/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Merriam, Ks
Posts: 1,949
I do 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of vinegar and half cup of bleach in a bucket in the garage. I've never had an issue, but I keep my ratios pretty low and wear a mask. Thanks for the links, good to know.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Italionstallion888 is offline  
post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 07:02 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
Aplomado's Avatar
 
PTrader: (3/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 920
If you are a grad student, maybe someone in sciences could hook you up with an autoclave?
Aplomado is offline  
post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Missouri
Posts: 398
Aplomado:

That is a good idea. Although now it is in the dishwasher with a setting for high temperature rinse. :-)

School hasn't started yet (not for 2.5 weeks) anyway. But for future wood, that is actually a really good idea. :-) I have my B.S. in molecular biology so I am hip to the autoclave. Now though I am in school psychology. :-D

dbw
dbw27 is offline  
post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 08:05 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PlantedRich's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 11,904
If you are setting up a new tank, you already have the container. Just do the soak in the tank itself and both will be sterile and ready to use once you drain and rinse.
The nice thing about bleach is that it DOES go away by itself if given a chance. So using it directly in the tank will be no problem. You can either let it dry so that it gasses off into the air or dilute it with water. There seems to be confusion about the chlorine in bleach being different than the standard chlorine found in much of our drinking water. Chlorine is the same whether it is in drinking water or bleach. It is just the concentration which is solved by diluting it.
Read the labels before using bleach or any product that you are not familiar with. Mixing it with other cleaners or chemicals is truly dangerous. There are combinations that you do want to avoid. Just as in airing up a car tire, it is possible to hurt your self.
PlantedRich is offline  
post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-08-2014, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Missouri
Posts: 398
PlantedRich! You are so smart. You are right. I do have the container. Wow! I never would have thought of that. I was looking at the five gallon bucket, my biggest container, and knew that would not work either. Anyway, I put some of the wood in the dishwasher now with a setting for high temperature rinse. It came out steaming hot. Still not good enough?

Oh well, I had already put the sand in the tank but I can take it back out. That tank is heavy so I am not looking forward to putting bleach in it and then dumping it out. Can always siphon.

(I would not mix chemicals. I took lots of chemistry in college and am a scaredy cat to do so. No worries.)

Thanks so much!

dbw
dbw27 is offline  
Reply

Tags
None

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome