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Author Topic: Borax and bugs  (Read 1462 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

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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

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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


Offline Don P

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2017, 12:01:06 am »
The recipe longtimelurker posted is one I've seen from an old navy spec. It did call for heat, I believe around 150 degrees F. When combined and heated with water it makes DOT, the chemical in all of the wood preserving borate mixes. Plantman has posted that recipe in one of these many threads recently. I've never used that recipe, seemed too hard to do in the field. I buy DOT directly, you can buy Timbor the listed chemical for the use. Just add water and stir, when the milky color turns clear you are ready, warm water mixes faster. I buy Solubor, listed for ag use as a boron amendment, chemically identical to Timbor. You can get this wettable powder from a real farm supply, last I bought was around $90/50lbs. Beau-ron is the same thing from another manufacturer and comes in 25lb sacks which is a little easier, I usually make 25 gallons or so at a time.

So there is my recipe, for a 10% solution mix 1 lb of powder to 1 gallon of water and you have a Timbor solution, suitable for green wood. Add 1 gallon of antifreeze per 5 gallons and you have Bora-care for dry wood. That concentration is stable down to below 40 degrees. 1.5 lbs/gal is a 15% solution, use immediately, it will begin to make rock candy on the surface of the bucket pretty quickly depending on temperature. Thoroughly rinse any spray equipment if you apply that way, it will clog if left.

 Understanding that the glycol is simply a wetting agent helps temper your antifreeze use. If you read and saw the test pics in the UPenn paper, glycols make a worthwhile difference in penetration. Basically if you see white crystals on the surface you aren't going to get any more in, a layer has dried and crystallized within the surface of the wood. Do get that off before you finish with a wet rag or sanding, with a mask. I left it on the old cabin I talked about above. They didn't want a finish on the historic cabin and so I left the light crystallizing remaining as my telltale. We decided that when those crystals leach away we would hit it again. I believe that was in '02 and last time I checked we don't need to do it yet. The house has overhangs and walls don't really see that much water.

I don't typically treat pine here, nothing wrong with doing it, I just don't see that much beetle damage to pine locally, they hit many of our hardwoods hard. Borate only works on insects that ingest the wood. Carpenter bees are our problem in pine and they are simply nesting not eating the wood so it is a waste to use it for them. They are in our CCA treated pine fascias, proof enough they aren't swallowing.

The cedar is naturally bug resistant so I wouldn't worry about it. I'd dip the aspen and it is up to you whether to do the pines. Borate also stops decay fungi, that might help you decide. I saw the comment somewhere that borate is also used as a fire retardant, it is, you are not going to be able to get to those levels in the field.

Edit, I see plantman has moved some of his links to this thread, I mentioned some of those in this post. We've about whipped this poor horse to death  :D

Edit... again. Plantman, if you want to try to duplicate Carnell's experiments with glycol, glycerin (floral supply) and sugar, Terro ant bait is DOT and sugar

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2017, 02:50:42 am »
So there is my recipe, for a 10% solution mix 1 lb of powder to 1 gallon of water and you have a Timbor solution, suitable for green wood. Add 1 gallon of antifreeze per 5 gallons and you have Bora-care for dry wood. That concentration is stable down to below 40 degrees. 1.5 lbs/gal is a 15% solution, use immediately, it will begin to make rock candy on the surface of the bucket pretty quickly depending on temperature. Thoroughly rinse any spray equipment if you apply that way, it will clog if left.

I don't typically treat pine here, nothing wrong with doing it, I just don't see that much beetle damage to pine locally, they hit many of our hardwoods hard.
Don,
Where is "here"?  You don't list your location in your profile. ;)

In the above link describing the tests done in the 1980s with the text of Dave Carnell's article, it was talking about using high amount of glycol to aid in the penetration, especially in wet (green) wood and subsequent stabilization. The discussion is fascinating.  His assertion was the glycol is very hygroscopic so it tends to pull into green wood better.  That recipe was this:

Home-Brew Glycol Solution of Borates: 50% glycol antifreeze, 28% borax, 22% boric acid. To make a stable solution you mix the ingredients and heat till boiling gently. Boil off water until a candy thermometer shows 260F. (This removes most of the water of crystallization in the borax.) This solution is stable at 40F and has a borate content of 26%. With antifreeze at $6/gal. and borax and boric acid prices as above, this costs about $15/gal.

Regarding the percentages - that must be by weight, correct?  Also assuming the borax and boric acid are powders?  I see him using the high amounts of glycol for wood stabilization - something that interests me greatly.  Your use of glycol is a much lower percentage and also no cooking!  Has that been working well for you?  Do you see a reduction in checking or are you not aiming for that?
John

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Offline Don P

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2017, 08:24:22 am »
Here is southwestern VA.
My main goal has been to keep insects out of the wood or to remove them from existing buildings I'm working on. The navy spec is by weight. The powders I am using are the DOT that the navy mix will create. It is made to tank mix for agricultural spray rigs... that is way to go IMO, ask for solubor in the wettable powder at your farm supply.
Yes it does work to keep beetles at bay. My starchy woods especially tulip poplar and sweet birch are quickly riddled if left untreated. They may try the surface but the wood is not thoroughly tunneled out the way it is if left untreated. During a hatch I can see them as clouds in the air and they will hit untreated wood overnight. I'm adding enough glycol to keep the wood wet looking when I'm working on an old building vs quickly drying. Once you see the wood dry it doesn't seem to accept any more borate, you are trying to dissolve a tough crystalline film. For that use I'm using a cheap pump up sprayer and flooding it on, multiple passes, this isn't fancy perfume, get as much into the wood as you can. At the mill without glycol I'm dipping. For timbers I usually rough notch my mortises and tennons and then dip. I usually roll those around in the homemade dip tray while I work on the next one, they can be in there for an hour or overnight. Interestingly black locust turns the solution a nice yellow, looks like a possible dye.

So to glycol, I'm cheap and use enough to keep a wet edge. I am interested in learning more about it as a wood stabilizer. Our little group of woodworkers is getting into slabs and big timbers and every woodworker dreams of stable wood. I'd like to think I've seen positive results in that regard but that would be seriously anecdotal. Carnell's experiments are closer to science, I've never done side by side experiments or high loadings of glycol. Keep searching for tests, test yourself and holler back. So, does borate work, yes, does glycol work to reduce checking, I suspect so. When we would travel around building log homes I would tell the homeowner to go ahead and put on a finish if the logs were green even if the finish was going to fail prematurely, it did visibly reduce checking by moderating drying conditions. Flood made a product back then called seasonite that helped there. That experience helped form my opinion about playing with the drying gradient. Best luck, off to finish mucking out an 1820's log barn.

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2017, 09:11:51 am »
When using for furniture will these solutions cause issues with glue ups, stain or finishes taking properly?  I have two walnut benches 1/2 done and I noticed a little powder below one a few months back but nothing since.  Thoughts?
Your Fellow Woodworker,
- Chris

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2017, 10:08:24 am »
The focus of Dave Carnell's research with ethylene glycol was around wood stabilization. I believe what he found was that EG was effective because it had small molecules which penetrated well and  had a strong affinity for clinging to water molecules. This pulled the EG into the wood filling voids which would ordinarily occur as the wood dried. The EG would not evaporate like water and would thus keep the wood saturated and resistant to warping, cracking, shrinking, etc. While borates certainly help to kill fungus and insects perhaps the EG is effective enough on it's own to do the job. Perhaps the borates decrease the EG's ability to penetrate the wood by clogging up wood pores ?
http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?186402-Ethylene-glycol-(auto-antifreeze)-treated-wood-safey

Offline Don P

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #25 on: March 19, 2017, 04:26:14 pm »
I think he was just like us, interested in stabilization, rot, insects. He seems to have experimented with various and many goals.

I think West System has papers on borate treated wood and their epoxies. I've used epoxy and it's fillers and thinners on wood after using a glycol borate mix and all I can say is it seemed to stick to punky wood I was rebuilding that probably would have been better replaced. That's more of a Bondo use than a glueline that needs to take some stress. I've glued and finished borated wood and it seemed to work. I'd say talk to the manufacturers 800 line and see if they have tested with borate or bora-care.

The only problem I've had with finishes is if a piece is very well treated, crystals have showed up under the finish at times. I've injected individual holes with a syringe and borate solution, that depends on which wood eating insect you have.

I wouldn't be surprised if ethylene glycol alone kills bugs when applied, beyond that and with the other claims, I'd like to see more research. I'd like for it to be so, but that doesn't necessarily make it so  :)

Offline ozarkgem

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #26 on: March 20, 2017, 07:47:12 am »
Those big wood bees love my cedar. Pretty much ruined my older stacks. I plane some
and almost always on the last pass I uncover a channel in my wood and about 6 bees inside.
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Offline Don P

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Re: Borax and bugs
« Reply #27 on: March 20, 2017, 09:51:42 pm »
Yup, they're tough. Since they are just nesting and not eating the wood borate doesn't bother them. They can't bite through a tough paint film and I do have some Drione dust I hit the holes with on my buildings but that just moves them over. They are kind of neat in one way, they bore in, turn 90 and head down the grain. Next year they go in that hole to the end, turn 90 and then head down the grain again, I've found some pretty long tunnels in fascia boards before.

I went over to the Forest Products Labs website and searched Ethylene Glycol and mostly got PEG hits. There was one paper that is over my head but in it they are talking about modifying wood with EG. From my take they were having an effect on mechanical properties. The S2 lamella they are talking about in sections is really where most mechanical properties come from. Start with the conclusions if you read this one;
https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2009/fpl_2009_jakes002.pdf

Then just to be more of a bummer, I found a report from '69. They had dipped boards in PEG to try to control checking, it made it worse. PEG is not EG though. It sounds like the increase in checking had more to do with the slow diffusion of PEG than anything;
https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrn/fplrn0204.pdf