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Author Topic: Borax and bugs  (Read 1903 times)

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Offline Beavertooth

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Borax and bugs
« on: February 07, 2017, 10:25:37 pm »
Have any of you ever tried dissolving borax in water and spraying on your dried lumber to keep  powder post beetles and other critters out.
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Offline POSTONLT40HD

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2017, 10:30:51 pm »
I do it all the time. I learned how from WDH.
The stuff works.
I spray mine right after sawing it or at the end of the day at least.
I'm thinking......

Offline Beavertooth

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2017, 10:37:03 pm »
May would be a good idea to spray when cut and again when dry so it would soak into lumber and have a longer lasting effect.
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Offline Beavertooth

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2017, 10:38:29 pm »
Poston what ratio do you use
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Offline BBTom

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2017, 10:51:09 pm »
I have always used 1 lb/gallon.
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2017, 11:02:06 pm »
For PPBs, I'm assuming you are talking about hardwoods, correct?  What, if any, precautions are needed for softwoods (pine)?
John Sawicky

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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2017, 12:37:43 am »
Does Borax work the same as a borate like Timbor?  I use boraxo sometimes in laundry and for handwashing engine grease off my hands.  I use Timbor on the wood.
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Offline Don P

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2017, 06:54:21 am »
To get DOT, disodium octaborate tetrahydrate, like Timbor or Solubor you would need to mix borax and boric acid in water and heat it. DOT, Timbor, is the listed insecticide. Solubor, the ag boron amendment is chemically identical but is unlisted as an insecticide, about half the price. That said old time carpenters would scatter boric acid on the sole plates of walls before closing them up, I've seen it listed on roach powders... it does work. Terro ant bait is DOT and sugar. It is not a contact poison so the critter has to ingest it for it to work. It will not kill things that are just burrowing and nesting like carpenter bees in pine. Those varmints will bore into treated lumber.   

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2017, 07:15:10 am »
We use 60parts disodium octoborate (borax) to 40 parts Boric acid. Dissolve it in water until it won't take up any more.
I always advise dunking the boards in a trough of solution rather then spraying... Faster, better coverage, sawdust washes off.

Note that this isn't treating with Borates, spray or dunking just puts borate on the boards not in the boards. Borate treatment is the same solution but the application method is different.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2017, 07:50:59 am »
It really helps on hardwoods from my experience.  Especially if you will be leaving the wood outside under a shed for a long time.  Down here, they (PPB's) will certainly find it if it is not treated. 
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Offline Farmerjw

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2017, 09:55:00 am »
With all due respect, if I can jump in here.  A pre-existing pile (let's say 5-7 years) and the bottom boards were found to have holes and dust, can I spray it now (when the weather is compatible to spraying) and kill them?  Or do I have to throw all of it on a burn pile and start over?
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Offline Darrel

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2017, 10:54:42 am »
Solubor devolves much more readily than does borax.
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Offline Beavertooth

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2017, 12:03:56 pm »
The PPB's will eat pine up like it is candy. Have done carpenter work most of my life and have seen many of houses with pine floor joist and subfloors turn to nothing but dust on the inside by them little devils. Looks from the outside like you shot a hundred cases of #9 shot from a shotgun into them.
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Offline plantman

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2017, 01:00:52 pm »
I believe that RV antifreeze containing propylene glycol is also an effective wood treatment you might want to mix with the borate / borax. The propylene will kill mold and fungus which will rot the wood.
http://www.alsnetbiz.com/homeimprovement/homemade.html
http://nisuscorp.com/builders/products/bora-care
Copper naphthenate is also effective treatment and can usually be purchased at lumber yards.
http://woodpoles.org/WhyWoodPoles/Preservatives.aspx
http://npic.orst.edu/ingred/ptype/treatwood/index.html

Offline Don P

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2017, 06:44:54 pm »
Propylene glycol is fine to use with a borate mix. Glycols dry slowly and help with diffusion. I haven't seen anything that indicates it is a "wood treatment". If you have something on that from a reputable source I'm always wanting to learn more.

Link #1 is a mashup from several sources, whoever put that together didn't understand what they were posting. Notice in the first couple of paragraphs it warns against using ethylene glycol then it gets to the part quoting Carnel where he is talking about EG.

Link #2, Bora-Care uses Ethylene Glycol rather than propylene glycol, again from the MSDS
Component CAS No. Amount
Ethylene Glycol 107-21-1 40-60%
Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate 12280-03-4 40%
Non-Hazardous Ingredient Proprietary 0-20%

FarmerJW, Bora-care or a home brew borate solution with some form of glycol added as a wetting agent is the best thing for dry wood. The borate travels on the wet and penetrates dry wood better if you can keep it wet, that is the main role of the glycol. Since the risk of ingesting a half cupful of ethylene glycol is rather remote and it is also toxic to many of the critters I'm trying to get rid of I do not mind using ethylene glycol in the mix, just as Bora=Care does. If this is a concern RV antifreeze, propylene glycol will perform the same slow drying role.

If you need a labeled mix with glycol and are averse to EG, Shell Guard from Perma-Chink should fill the bill, do notice you are paying for mostly glycol rather than borate with this product.
 Chemical Name  CAS#  Ingredient Percent     EC Num.   
 Ethylene glycol  107-21-1    0.1 - 0.3 by weight        203-473-3   
 Disodium Octoborate Tetrahydrate (DOT)  12280-03-4    25 - 26 by weight         
 Polyethylene glycol  25322-68-3    30 - 40 by weight        500-038-2   
 Propylene glycol  57-55-6    30 - 40 by weight        200-338-0 

Offline plantman

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2017, 08:05:28 pm »
I'm new to this and still learning so your point is well taken. I think I will call up Nisus corp and talk with their tech about it. Do you know if the glycol works to control checking in the wood ?

Offline Don P

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2017, 09:23:13 pm »
If we are talking about ethylene or propylene glycol the only reports I've seen claiming it helps with checking are anecdotal. From what I've found, or not found, I don't think there has ever been a study done. PEG polyethylene glycol with a molecular weight of 1000 or higher, in other words a big chain of molecules, does bulk the cell wall and so reduces checking. Well documented.

 If you noticed the Shell Guard did list PEG but didn't list a molecular weight. I kind of suspect it is the kind that comes in the thunder jug you chug before a colonoscopy, great for wet out but not the kind sold for wood stabilization.

 Most checking is the result of a high moisture gradient, drying the surface too rapidly in relation to the core. If the surface is shrinking and the core is still green and fat, as soon as the shrinkage stress at the surface surpasses the tensile strength of the wood perpendicular to grain, the wood will fail and a check will develop. Checking wood is sort of like tearing cloth in that it is kind of hard to start the tear but once started it is much easier to rip.

I do have a hypothesis, an educated guess, not a theory, based on facts. If you put something on the surface that acts like water within the cell but dries slower than water, you are going to lower the drying gradient and so have less checking. Glycols act like water within the cell but dry slowly.

So, I guess this is a call for papers if anyone knows of any... or a call for a wood tech grad student in need of a project if not.

In my personal homemade borate solutions I do not use much glycol, I'm a poor country carpenter trying to preserve old log cabins and barns and the stuff is expensive. I sprayed one cabin every day for a month keeping it wet by using ethylene glycol in the mix. I missed the 4th of July and by the 5th it had dried and would not accept any more borate. I gauge the quantity to the conditions. If we are windy, dry and bright and the work is exposed I'll add a half gallon to a 5 gallon batch. If it is calm, cloudy, high humidity and in the shade, I'll add a quart. Do the math, I'm running 1/2 to 1/4 what the commercial products are listing. If I'm dipping green wood fresh off the saw I don't add any, check Timbor. My use of glycols has been aimed at preserving a wet edge to help transport the borate deeper into the wood rather than preventing checks. So I'm adding glycol for the same reason a painter or a paint manufacturer adds it to paint, to help preserve a wet edge. I do however think it is worth exploring those anecdotal reports that it helps prevent checking.

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2017, 10:10:39 pm »
Don P,

All this talk about PPB and my upcoming cabin build has me a bit nervous!  I have a couple gallons of anti freeze sitting around and would like to make use of them.

Sooooo, can you give a formula of Borax, boric acid, water, (whatever) glycol ratios for us Chemistry-challenged?  And will heat be needed to transform.  If you make a concentrate, does it have a long shelf life or does it need to be used quickly?  If making a concentrate, how concentrated can it be made before the borax wants to precipitate out?

Then comes the question, what needs to be treated?  None of my wood will be within 8 feet of soil.  I will have a mix of pines (red/white/ponderosa) for structural, Quaking Aspen (flooring) and Incense Cedar (interior wall boards and exterior deck).

A couple years ago, I followed some instructions to treat my pool by buffering it with Borax.  IIRC, it was lots of Borax (a base) and Muriatic Acid.  I *thought* I was making Boric Acid with this combination but obviously didn't add heat.
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 38" cut Bandmill up to 64' - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline plantman

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2017, 11:39:15 pm »
Ok I found a great series of posts detailing everything concerning glycols . Save this link.

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?186402-Ethylene-glycol-(auto-antifreeze)-treated-wood-safey