The warmer weather of summertime means more playing outside and in the water. This in turn brings out neat “discoveries”. We have recently received several inquiries regarding the treatment and stabilization of waterlogged wood items that have been found in the ocean, freshwater lakes and rivers.
What is Waterlogged Wood?
Wood becomes waterlogged after prolonged submersion (usually many decades) in water, wet soil, bogs, etc. Bacteria causes the wood cell walls to degrade. Starch, sugar, minerals and tannic acid are leached out of the wood. Because of the disintegration of cellulose and lignin, the space between the wood cells and molecules become larger making the wood more porous. The cell cavities and intermolecular spaces then fill with water and the wood becomes like a sponge.
A waterlogged wooden object will retain its original shape as long as it is kept wet. Once the wood is exposed to air the excess water will evaporate causing the cell walls to collapse, thus, the wood will shrink and warp (and even fall apart).
Treating Waterlogged Wood
SP-11 is our waterlogged wood treatment. It is formulated specifically for museums and conservationists. It is a rich formula to treat waterlogged wood to replace the resigns that have leached out in the wood. It will prevent shrinking and warping as the wood dries.
Unlike Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), which is another method for stabilizing waterlogged wood, SP-11 does not need to be heated, it will penetrate much quicker, it does not add weight to the wood and will not darken it.
For additional information and guidance on treating waterlogged wood, you can contact us: