Borating logs A.K.A. Killing the little…critters… that are eating our house

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I cooked up another batch of Borate solution last night.

In the West, where I’m originally from, bugs exist, but they take a while to do their damage. I remember years ago, I got some western red cedar logs from a relative. I was going to make a bed out of them (still am- just don’t have the shop space to do it – but that’s a long story). I brought them home and set them on the patio. A few weeks later, I noticed the strangest bug on the side of the house- it was a beetle that I’d never seen before. This was in the infant days of the internet, so I took a picture and went to the library to figure Alder Bark Beetle (9)

out what it was. Even after identifying it, I didn’t immediately make the connection to the cedar logs I had outside. When it finally dawned on me that this guy was eating my wood, I freaked out. No one really knew how to treat them where I lived- but someone said you have to raise the temperature inside the wood to over 130 degrees for a few days or something like that. I got a bunch of garbage bags and put the logs in them. I left them out in the sun for a week just to make sure I killed every one of them.

Fast forward to now. After the accident with my finger, I had about ten logs laying on the ground that I couldn’t move for a few weeks. Using a tractor and tow chain to lift logs actually does require the use of both hands, I found out. I also thought I was fine because  the logs that were peeled were off the ground.

Here in the South, things tend to decay within a few weeks, I’m finding out. While cleaning up branches, I noticed one that I had cut was under a log. As I moved the log, I picked up the branch that had been half-buried in the dirt- and the part that was in the dirt was already in process of decaying. If I lived out West, I would have said the branch had been there for about six months. But I knew it had only been there for about three weeks. And my wife found a lot of bugs just under the bark of the logs I had already cut. I don’t know if you are aware, but it takes a lot of work for me to move a log…I didn’t want to have to replace any of them.  I did my little freak-out session, and cooked up some borate solution right away.

boracare1The cool thing about the borate solution is that you can make it yourself. Or, you can buy it for – I guess- about $75 a gallon. I use the super secret formula from the LHBA members area that is basically the same as the Boracare stuff found here, but for about $16.50 per gallon.

The main ingredient, Boric Acid, can be purchased online. It’s also available in it’s natural state near volcanoes (like in Italy and Nevada). It’s pretty benign stuff, actually; not like some of the harsh stuff they spray on your lawn (if you’re into that kind of thing). Funny thing about Boric Acid is that it is excellent at killing bugs, and it is also excellent at preserving wood from fungus. Exactly what I need for a log home. The cool thing is that along with glycol, the borate solution actually sucks into the center of the wood, displacing water in the wood. I believe this is how it also kills bugs. And people, I imagine…

The glycol is available in a poisonous form otherwise known as antifreeze. But there’s a non-toxic version available as well- known as glycerol. It’s a common sweetener used in the food industry. I went with the antifreeze stuff because I don’t like the idea of deer licking my house. Just kidding.  No deer should be harmed by it. It soaks into the wood, it doesn’t stay on the outside, remember?

Using the method taught in class, I understand that it’s a “one and done” treatment; meaning you treat the logs once, and you’re done for the next hundred years or so. I have to treat my logs at least twice though. And one of the reasons is that my logs will be sitting out in the sun and rain for a long time while I collect enough of them to stack. That’ll be the first treatment. The second (and final treatment, I hope), will be once I get the logs under roof. Once they are under roof, they will stay dry, which means my borate treatment won’t be leeched out with rain. As long as the logs remain dry, I understand they will be bug/mold proof.

Bought a backpack sprayer from Harbor Freight for $20. Thanks to my photographer wife for providing photos and for peeling the second rack of logs:

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Right now, it looks like one gallon of my solution treats about six logs. I’m calculating it’ll cost me about $350 to treat the whole thing twice. And if I went with the commercial stuff? $1600.

5 thoughts on “Borating logs A.K.A. Killing the little…critters… that are eating our house

    1. No more big issues. But I’m going slow so I’ve treated the logs again. I recommend treating them yearly until you are dried in (under roof).

      Liked by 1 person

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