Salt pastes and PEG

Polyethylene glycol is high-priced, but the alternatives for stabilizing green wood are few. 1998.

by Professor Gene Wengert

I have a question about the treatment of green wood to prevent it from splitting and expanding while it dries out. I have heard that there is a chemical called polyethylene glycol that treats wood for this explicit purpose, but it is highly overpriced. Is there anything else out there that I can use to treat green wood that is not so highly priced?

Nothing else that I know of, although a salt paste has been used at times, but the salt is very corrosive. See USDA Agriculture Handbook No. 528 for more information.

Professor Gene Wengert is Extension Specialist in Wood Processing at the Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
Drying walnut gunstock blanks by immersing in salt boxes worked well for one firearms manufacturer until the salt bled out of the stocks after the finish was applied.

Comment from contributor H:
I have had good success with latex paint on log ends. I purchase mismatched latex paint at the big box lumber place for a couple bucks a gallon and a throw-away cheap bristle brush. Do not spare the paint - wait 30 mintues, another coat, next day two more coats. During warm season you will actually see the paint bubble from the moisture escaping at the log end. Use various colors to denote specie, location of harvest or time of year cut. The latex lets moisture out at a rather controlled rate and the log end does not check or at least not as badly. I have had oak, pine, walnut that checked only an inch or two. The secret is to - when the log hits the ground and is cut to length - immediately start doing the painting. Checks start developing within 30 mintures in warm weather (above freezing!).