DIY Driftwood

How to Clean Driftwood

You’ve been lucky enough to find a unique piece of driftwood that you want to use for a project but now how do you clean it?  The forces of nature may have already removed much of the debris and hopefully,  left you a nicely weathered and smooth finish to start with but you still need to be able to remove the dirt, mold, parasites and other critters that may be lingering in your driftwood.

If you’re using your driftwood for an aquarium, you will need to use a natural process to clean driftwood without any chemicals.  If your pieces are small enough, you can boil them but you may split and crack the wood.  A better way to clean driftwood, and one that you can use regardless of whether you use the driftwood in an aquarium or not, is the slow soaking method using distilled water.Clean driftwood

Clean Driftwood Using the Distilled Water Soaking Method

Scrub your wood with a sturdy scrub brush to remove loose debris and surface dirt.  Fill a large container with enough distilled water to cover your wood.  I suppose one could use a bathtub if you don’t have a large container but I’m not sure what may be left behind in your tub once the process is finished.  

The driftwood needs to soak, fully covered, in the distilled water for at least two weeks, and you will need to change the water several times when it becomes dark with the leached tannins.  The tannin is what gives the wood its color and we want to get rid of as much color as possible in this process, along with any other critters.  You can place a large rock or something heavy to hold down your driftwood while it soaks.

After two weeks, remove the wood and place it somewhere where it will be able to dry undisturbed in an environment with low humidity.

Once it is dry, you can use it for whatever driftwood project you wish.

Clean Driftwood Using the Disinfecting Method 

Mix a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water and fill a large container so that there is enough solution to completely submerge your driftwood.  Place your driftwood in the solution.  Soak your driftwood for 3 or 4 days, changing out the disinfecting solution each day.  

Remove your driftwood and let it dry undisturbed in an environment with low humidity.  

You should not use clean driftwood that has been chemically bleached in an aquarium with live plants or animals.

Also see Refinish Driftwood

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2 Comments

  1. DRIFTWOOD FURNITURE – Mirror Magic | Thats Freakin Funny says:

    [...] If you’re using your driftwood for an aquarium, you will need to use a natural process to clean driftwood without any chemicals.  If your pieces are small enough, you can boil them but you may split and crack the wood.  A better way to clean driftwood, and one that you can use regardless of whether you use the driftwood in an aquarium or not, is the slow soaking method using distilled water. [...]

  2. Serge V Richard says:

    Love your website and its driftwood info. Thanks for sharing!

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