Most people love birch logs during Christmas time. However, you can use birch logs to decorate your home at any time of the year. So, how do you preserve birch logs?
Birch is a great focal point in any room. This tree is often used in many DIY projects, including luminaries, tables, bedposts, and more. To keep it in good shape, you will have to dry it before using it. This will keep it from rotting and will keep the critters from feasting on it.
If you have just cut down a piece of birch in your backyard or asked a neighbor if you can have the large branch that fell in their yard, you probably can’t wait to incorporate it into your décor. However, birch is waterproof and tends to rot quickly, and you must work quickly to preserve it to keep it from decaying. Here’s how.
Drying Birch Wood Using the Long-Term Method
When it comes to birch wood, it is best to dry this wood out slowly and naturally. If you are in no hurry to use the wood for DIY projects, then you can preserve your birch wood using a much slower process. Keep in mind that since this is a low-moisture wood, the natural process for drying it can take up to a year.
If you prefer to use the long-term drying method, you probably want to use the birch wood primarily for firewood. Birch is an incredibly beautiful wood to place within your fireplace, and it is an excellent wood to burn, but it is not useful if it’s wet, rotten, or moldy. So, how do you preserve birch for firewood?
Get the Bugs Out, First
Before you get to the birch wood preservation process, you must start with the critter removal process. One thing that may be lurking in birch is termites, Japanese beetles, borers, or other pests. You don’t want to bring this wood into your home or anywhere near it before making sure that you have removed the pests. Otherwise, this adorable wood can turn into a termite picnic in your home.
So how do you get the bugs out of wood? One of the best ways to make sure that bugs and other pests don’t start feasting on or making a home out of your birch wood is to preserve it in a dry place. Bugs like termites aren’t attracted to the wood itself; instead, they are attracted to the cellulose in the wood. The cellulose is tastier to termites when it is full of moisture.
Other methods for getting bugs out and keeping bugs off wood are as follows:
- Suffocate them with plastic.
- Freeze them in a deep freezer.
- Use an insecticide on the wood.
- Kill them with borax.
These methods will get rid of pests on wood. However, borax can also get rid of wood-destroying fungus and molds that may be growing on the birch wood. Ensure that when you are applying these treatments and insecticides, you don’t allow small children or pets around the area. Also, ensure that the borax treatment doesn’t poison the grass or animals by laying a protective barrier down to keep it from seeping onto the ground.
Then, Get the Moisture Out
Once you have gotten the bugs off the wood, you must get the moisture out of the wood. This is the most critical part of the preservation process because moisture attracts bugs and can lead to wood rot. If you get enough moisture out of the birch to make it a dry wood, you can use it effectively as firewood. However, it would be best to transform the birch into seasoned wood, which will burn cleaner. Also, there isn’t much creosote in seasoned wood, which can cause chimney or house fires.
Whether you plan to use the birch as lumber or firewood, air drying is a great technique. Before you start the process of air-drying the birch, you will have to seal the ends with latex or an end grain sealer for green wood. This prevents the wood from drying out too quickly and cracking on the ends.
You can create an area on your property to pile the wood so that it can dry evenly. It’s best to place the birch wood in a shady spot so that the sun won’t dry it out unevenly. The natural air is best for the wood because it prevents mold growth and provides excellent airflow throughout the birch. Ensure that your wood is not touching the ground by stacking it on a rack or cinder blocks. This keeps termites and moisture off the wood.
Quickly Drying Birch Wood For DIY Projects
Do you want to create adorable DIY projects for the upcoming fall and winter season such as birch candle holders, a holiday wreath, coasters, shelves, or room dividing posts? If so, you may have to get started right away with the wood drying process so that you can finish these projects in time. To get your birch wood dryer faster, splitting it will make it dry in as little as six months.
After splitting wood, you can air dry it in piles similar to the long-term air-drying method. However, if you need the wood to dry even faster than six months, you will have to resort to drying wood in a kiln. To get started, you will need a moisture meter. This allows you to keep track of the moisture content in the birch as it is drying in the kiln. You want to get your moisture content down to about six to eight percent moisture content.
If you are not interested in investing in a wood kiln that could be pretty pricey, another great option, especially for smaller pieces of birch you plan to use for DIY projects, is to place it in a regular microwave oven. When microwaving birch, you have to be careful. Remember, you are not heating TV dinners. You don’t want to heat the wood for longer than two minutes. Also, keep using your moisture meter to check the moisture content as you dry the wood in the microwave.
Once you are finished with drying your birch wood, you can get started on your DIY projects. Another consideration for preserving your wood once it air dries or dries using a quicker method is to use a wood preservation or stabilizing product such as Pentacryl. This also helps with drying and prevents cracking, splitting, warping, or irregular drying.