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Old 01-16-2009, 02:41 PM   #1
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Soaking driftwood with ammonia?

I just bought a few pieces of driftwood from my LFS and soaked it overnight in hot water. The water turned slightly tan as it should. About 30 minutes ago I was changing the water, and I decided to throw in a few big glugs of ammonia into the water. I figured it couldn't hurt since it is a cleaning solution and I am already putting it into my tank for a fishless cycle. After just a few minutes the water is at least twice as dark as it was after an overnight soak.

Can the high ph of ammonia be drawing out the tannic acids faster? Is this ok? Has anyone done this?
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Old 01-16-2009, 03:28 PM   #2
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Interesting!

I just finished preping a piece of driftwood myself. I started with a piece that was in the reptile section of the LFS. Found that it takes a lot more than just soaking in hot water over night o get it really prepared. I found that I had to boil it. Fortunately I had an old 30qt stock pot sitting in storage that I could use. I had to boil it several times, like each night for a week and a half. I probably spent a total of 16 - 20 hours boiling this thing.

My consern with using ammonia to draw out the tannic acid likely means that ammonia is likely being drawn up into the wood, and once you put that in your tank, it will take time for the ammonia to leach back out. During that time, it will be like having a bigger bio-load in the tank. But then, depending upon when you add the wood back into the tank, it might mean you don't have to "feed" the tank ammonia for a couple of days, the wood will do it for you.

Unless someone else comes along and can give you more specific information, my educated GUESS is that you should STOP adding "glugs" of ammonia to the wood, and instead keep soaking it in hot water, changing out the water each day. If possible, bring the water to a boil for an hour, then let the water cool over night. Then again change out the water the next day.

The thing I found I was having problems with wasn't the tannic acid (that was coming out easy enough with hot water and water changes). It was getting the wood waterlogged enough to sink. Even after two weeks and hours of boiling, the thickest part of the wood still tried to flip up. So I finally gave up and mounted it to a piece of slate to ensure it would stay down.

Actually, based on my experience, unless you have a piece that is VERY stable (i.e. impossible to "tip" over) you should plan on mounting it to a piece of slate to keep it stable in the tank. I found slate suprizingly easy to drill through. From there I've been told you just need stainless steel screws. I hope brass screws are just as good. When I was ready to mount my, that was the best thing I had on hand.

Goodluck on the driftwood.
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:02 PM   #3
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I wasnt lucky enough to have a large enough pot to boil it in. But the piece did however sink like a rock in the large rubbermaid container i have. I think that from here on out I will just use hot water and see if it will eventually stay clear. I just got home after letting it soak for 6-7? hours probably and the water was dark brown so hopefully that got most of it.
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Old 01-16-2009, 11:46 PM   #4
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From what I've experienced and heard, it should take a few weeks of soaking in hot water (with the water getting replaced daily) before most of the tannic acid is leached out, unless someone else has already been soaking the wood and you just have to finish it up.
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