Lime Sulfur, Tung Oil, BLO, Wood Hardener, Smith's CPES, Paraloid, Titebond III, Secret formulae...

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#1
In May I extensively carved a bald cypress I've had since 1996. I treated it with lime sulfur as a stop-gap until I get to restyle the tree in Winter. I also wanted the wood to weather a bit more, and it has.

I want to go with Smith's CPES, but there's nearly nothing on the web about using it for bonsai.

I've been reading up, and I have found the following:

Lime Sulfur works as a fungicide and produces a nice white wood. It has to be reapplied at least yearly. I have limited success with it. If there is rot behind the surface, I'm looking a few years of good results, then everything will fall off.

Lime Sulfur can be tinted with India Ink or other pigments. My problem with this is that the grain of the wood can absorb the ink at differing rates. Then reabsorb it later when you're doing your annual lime sulfur treatment. Once you've started coloring the wood, you're stuck with it. It cannot be undone. Further, if you're carving movement into the deadwood, contrary to the wood grain, tinted lime sulfur will reveal the true grain of the wood. The movement of the carving will not look right.

Wood hardeners, such as Minwax, don't penetrate very deeply into the deadwood of the bonsai. Again, if you've got rot in there, your heart will be broken sooner or later. The trick with wood hardners is getting the wood to the perfect color before you harden off the wood. If you like lime-sulfur-white, that's it. You've got it.

White paint with Dr. Tichenor's. Yes. I heard that advice once. The pigment in the paint would soak into the grains and just screw everything up.

Titebond III. I use this for trunk chops on my bald cypress. I only mention it here because, like Minwax, if you have rot, or termites, behind the seal, it'll fail one day.

Paraloid is acrylic crystals you dissolve in acetone. Then just brush it onto the wood. The acetone draws the paraloid into the wood. When the acetone evaporates, it leaves the acrylic behind. I've only seen this mentioned in one place, but I'm curious how it comes out. I'm fairly certain that acetone is not good for the tree, so don't get it on the roots. And certainly not on your pot! Paraloid is also used as an acrylic coating material. I would imagine that if you did not wipe off the excess solution, that your tree will have a beautiful plastic coating. Kidding. You don't want that.

Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) is a cheap oil that can be used to preserve wood. You need to reapply the oil. It's not the better oil to use. It can go rancid and even mildew. BLO is also the toxic version of raw lindseed oil. Raw lindseed oil is not toxic, but it takes a very long time to dry.

Tung Oil seems to be the way to go if all you want to do is oil the wood. Be sure to buy pure tung oil. Certain famous furniture brands of tung oil have very little tung oil in them. It doesn't yellow, go rancid, or mildew. It is also more water resistant than BLO. It's also more expensive, but not prohibitively so for our use. Tung oil is also considered food-safe for surfaces, so you should be okay using this on the deadwood of your tree. (as opposed to certain copper-based fungicides, for example).

Smith's CPES was mentioned here on Bonsai Nut as the substance that Ryan Neil uses on his deadwood. Epoxies are used in boats to preserve wood or to treat rotted wood. Unlike Minwax, a penetrating epoxy will seep into seasoned wood where it will harden off. It has an added benefit of not changing the color of the wood. I don't know if that means a nice white or silver-oxidized bonsai deadwood will remain that color. I've seen some things that tell me that bonsai deadwood will retain it's color. I don't know how much of a gloss change there is by using a penetrating epoxy. My fear is that over time the cellulose of the deadwood will wear away at the surface and leave nothing but epoxy behind. This will be very noticeable and unattractive.

Smith's CPES has negative criticism over it's price compared to it's contents. CPES is a thinned epoxy. Denatured alcohol is added to it to help it penetrate the wood. Since epoxies can be made from many differing compounds, I'm going with Smith's because Ryan Neil uses it. If I had time, and trees, to experiment, I would likely find a less expensive alternative to Smiths that can be used safely on trees. Just add denatured alcohol, and the epoxy becomes a penetrating epoxy.

Secret Formulae: Graham Potter of Kaizen Bonsai, has two proprietary products for preserving deadwood. Both of these products have rather generic names and no hints as to what is inside of them. "Tree Gum" appears to be a resin regimen. Repeated treatments are meant to reproduce the hardening off of the core wood in conifers. I have no idea what he's using, and being in the US, I have no way to find out. The

The other secret formula is a Kaizen product called "Natural Deadwood Preserver". From reading the product description and application instructions, I get the idea that it is some sort of oil mixture. If I had to guess, I'd say tung oil, lemon oil, and denatured alcohol. But this is a silly wild ass guess with no facts to back it up. Again, I cannot import the product from the UK.

Any comments? Additions?
 

markyscott

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#4
I’ve tried this product on Yaupon holly.

78406C85-8FEF-4A3F-B7F0-621F312E86BE.jpeg

It’s a marine epoxy for preserving rotted wood and it seems to have done its job.

Yaupon wood is very punky and unstable - much more so than bald cypress. It has a very low viscosity and surface tension so it is readily absorbed into the wood. I applied several coats when I put it on. At first, I was very dissapointed - although very hard, the finish was quite shiny. However, over the coarse of the following year, the luster disappeared and the result was a very hard, but natural-looking, silvery gray dead wood feature. Here’s a close up taken approximately 2 years after application of the sealer:

8FCE1DB5-8748-49F6-A894-B5009912F5C7.jpeg

It’s been over three years now since the application and I havent observed any deterioration of the deadwood or any areas of renewed rot.

I’ve continued to apply lime sulfur, once a year and right on top of the sealed deadwood. I use it 50% diluted with water - no ink. On this wood, it dulls to gray very quickly - almost right away. It’s not the bone white of juniper wood after lime sulfur has been applied.

I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again on trees that have a problem with punky deadwood.

Scott
 

just.wing.it

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#5
I have a bottle of concentrated lime sulfur for veterinary use, which will dilute substantially with water and use on a few taxus jins, I have....
Haven't used it yet.
Here's the one I will be using...
I've read that people use as little as 2% lime sulfur to 98% water... so I'll play around with the dilution this winter.
The bottle itself is "97.8% Sulfurated Lime Solution with 2.2% Inert Ingredients."

1507852849751-1004722801.jpg
 

markyscott

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just.wing.it

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#7
Yeah!
That thread gave me the idea :D
Thank you for finding that one, I want to re-read that.
 
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#9
I’ve tried this product on Yaupon holly.

View attachment 163720

It’s a marine epoxy for preserving rotted wood and it seems to have done its job.

Yaupon wood is very punky and unstable - much more so than bald cypress. It has a very low viscosity and surface tension so it is readily absorbed into the wood. I applied several coats when I put it on. At first, I was very dissapointed - although very hard, the finish was quite shiny. However, over the coarse of the following year, the luster disappeared and the result was a very hard, but natural-looking, silvery gray dead wood feature. Here’s a close up taken approximately 2 years after application of the sealer:

View attachment 163721

It’s been over three years now since the application and I havent observed any deterioration of the deadwood or any areas of renewed rot.

I’ve continued to apply lime sulfur, once a year and right on top of the sealed deadwood. I use it 50% diluted with water - no ink. On this wood, it dulls to gray very quickly - almost right away. It’s not the bone white of juniper wood after lime sulfur has been applied.

I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again on trees that have a problem with punky deadwood.

Scott
This is the exact product I recently purchased.

Everything I can find on using something like this says to get the wood as dry as possible. Here in NOLA, I'd have to keep my tree under the patio cover for a couple weeks. We're just so damned humid. Showers pop up out of no where. I'll water my tree from a very low angle.

Your deadwood looks great, by the way.

What did you do to protect the bark during application?
 
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#10

wireme

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#12
In May I extensively carved a bald cypress I've had since 1996. I treated it with lime sulfur as a stop-gap until I get to restyle the tree in Winter. I also wanted the wood to weather a bit more, and it has.

I want to go with Smith's CPES, but there's nearly nothing on the web about using it for bonsai.

I've been reading up, and I have found the following:

Lime Sulfur works as a fungicide and produces a nice white wood. It has to be reapplied at least yearly. I have limited success with it. If there is rot behind the surface, I'm looking a few years of good results, then everything will fall off.

Lime Sulfur can be tinted with India Ink or other pigments. My problem with this is that the grain of the wood can absorb the ink at differing rates. Then reabsorb it later when you're doing your annual lime sulfur treatment. Once you've started coloring the wood, you're stuck with it. It cannot be undone. Further, if you're carving movement into the deadwood, contrary to the wood grain, tinted lime sulfur will reveal the true grain of the wood. The movement of the carving will not look right.

Wood hardeners, such as Minwax, don't penetrate very deeply into the deadwood of the bonsai. Again, if you've got rot in there, your heart will be broken sooner or later. The trick with wood hardners is getting the wood to the perfect color before you harden off the wood. If you like lime-sulfur-white, that's it. You've got it.

White paint with Dr. Tichenor's. Yes. I heard that advice once. The pigment in the paint would soak into the grains and just screw everything up.

Titebond III. I use this for trunk chops on my bald cypress. I only mention it here because, like Minwax, if you have rot, or termites, behind the seal, it'll fail one day.

Paraloid is acrylic crystals you dissolve in acetone. Then just brush it onto the wood. The acetone draws the paraloid into the wood. When the acetone evaporates, it leaves the acrylic behind. I've only seen this mentioned in one place, but I'm curious how it comes out. I'm fairly certain that acetone is not good for the tree, so don't get it on the roots. And certainly not on your pot! Paraloid is also used as an acrylic coating material. I would imagine that if you did not wipe off the excess solution, that your tree will have a beautiful plastic coating. Kidding. You don't want that.

Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) is a cheap oil that can be used to preserve wood. You need to reapply the oil. It's not the better oil to use. It can go rancid and even mildew. BLO is also the toxic version of raw lindseed oil. Raw lindseed oil is not toxic, but it takes a very long time to dry.

Tung Oil seems to be the way to go if all you want to do is oil the wood. Be sure to buy pure tung oil. Certain famous furniture brands of tung oil have very little tung oil in them. It doesn't yellow, go rancid, or mildew. It is also more water resistant than BLO. It's also more expensive, but not prohibitively so for our use. Tung oil is also considered food-safe for surfaces, so you should be okay using this on the deadwood of your tree. (as opposed to certain copper-based fungicides, for example).

Smith's CPES was mentioned here on Bonsai Nut as the substance that Ryan Neil uses on his deadwood. Epoxies are used in boats to preserve wood or to treat rotted wood. Unlike Minwax, a penetrating epoxy will seep into seasoned wood where it will harden off. It has an added benefit of not changing the color of the wood. I don't know if that means a nice white or silver-oxidized bonsai deadwood will remain that color. I've seen some things that tell me that bonsai deadwood will retain it's color. I don't know how much of a gloss change there is by using a penetrating epoxy. My fear is that over time the cellulose of the deadwood will wear away at the surface and leave nothing but epoxy behind. This will be very noticeable and unattractive.

Smith's CPES has negative criticism over it's price compared to it's contents. CPES is a thinned epoxy. Denatured alcohol is added to it to help it penetrate the wood. Since epoxies can be made from many differing compounds, I'm going with Smith's because Ryan Neil uses it. If I had time, and trees, to experiment, I would likely find a less expensive alternative to Smiths that can be used safely on trees. Just add denatured alcohol, and the epoxy becomes a penetrating epoxy.

Secret Formulae: Graham Potter of Kaizen Bonsai, has two proprietary products for preserving deadwood. Both of these products have rather generic names and no hints as to what is inside of them. "Tree Gum" appears to be a resin regimen. Repeated treatments are meant to reproduce the hardening off of the core wood in conifers. I have no idea what he's using, and being in the US, I have no way to find out. The

The other secret formula is a Kaizen product called "Natural Deadwood Preserver". From reading the product description and application instructions, I get the idea that it is some sort of oil mixture. If I had to guess, I'd say tung oil, lemon oil, and denatured alcohol. But this is a silly wild ass guess with no facts to back it up. Again, I cannot import the product from the UK.

Any comments? Additions?
I have long wondered about glycols for this purpose, never seen any bonsai folk mention it and haven't tried it or even researched much.

Just did a quick google though, check out this thread from a boat forum. If you do look into it and come to any conclusions I'd like to hear what you think.
http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?93045-Anti-rot-Use-of-Polyethylene-Glycol
 
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#13
I have long wondered about glycols for this purpose, never seen any bonsai folk mention it and haven't tried it or even researched much.

Just did a quick google though, check out this thread from a boat forum. If you do look into it and come to any conclusions I'd like to hear what you think.
http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?93045-Anti-rot-Use-of-Polyethylene-Glycol
Did you read that whole thread? The cure for sores on one guys penis? Holy shit. I'm trying to keep rot off my trees. Turns out I found a cure for rot on my root! (not that I need it, you see...)
 
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#14
So, I just want to be clear: If you use lime sulphur to make your deadwood white, you can then use a hardener such as the Minwax brand and it will preserve the white?
 

GrimLore

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#15
Wood hardeners, such as Minwax, don't penetrate very deeply into the deadwood of the bonsai. Again, if you've got rot in there, your heart will be broken sooner or later. The trick with wood hardners is getting the wood to the perfect color before you harden off the wood.
Being a Bald cypress I think you would want to avoid the whiteness that Sulfur produces. To actually harden and preserve the wood I strongly recommend PC Petrifier. Some say it is to shiney but wears off - I never had that problem and just suggest to mix it well AND apply at the recommended temperature, here it dries dull.

Available at most big box stores, Grainger, and others -

PC-Petrifier-16oz.png

Grimmy
 
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#16
Being a Bald cypress I think you would want to avoid the whiteness that Sulfur produces. To actually harden and preserve the wood I strongly recommend PC Petrifier. Some say it is to shiney but wears off - I never had that problem and just suggest to mix it well AND apply at the recommended temperature, here it dries dull.

Available at most big box stores, Grainger, and others -

Grimmy
I question the depth of the penetration because it is water-based. I purchased the Smith's CPES, but have not yet used it. I also have some unused Minwax wood hardener. Before I use anything on my prized deadwood, I'm going to test the wood hardeners on a dead bald cypress :( that didn't survive an ambitious dig quota. I'll going to head out at lunch (oh, look, it's lunch time now) to get a bottle of PC-Petrifier, and I'll test it as well. My test is to sand off the bark of the dead bald cypress, paint on a wide strip of lime sulfur, and treat both painted and unpainted areas with each of the products. Once cured, I'll make four cross-cuts for each of the hardeners and an unhardened section as a control. Let the best protectant win!

Now for my concerns regarding PC Petrifier:

From the PC Products (manufacturer, pcepoxy.com) Standard Data Sheet:
DESCRIPTION: PC-Petrifier is a single component adhesive, formulated to fully penetrate and revitalize rotted wood. PC-Petrifier is a water base wood consolidant that is environmentally friendly. Low viscosity allows deep penetration into soft rotted wood fiber, restoring old wood to near structural integrity.
From the FAQ on the PC-Products web site:
Does PC-Petrifier® work on vertical surfaces?
Vertical surfaces are more difficult to penetrate without holes to access the grain of the wood. Use a 1/8 to 1/4 inch bit to drill multiple holes on a 45 degree downward angle. Use a disposable brush to direct the PC-Petrifier® into the holes, fully soaking the wood.
Being a water-based product gives me pause. Also, drilling holes to aid in the preservation of vertical sections is a no-go for bonsai deadwood.

PC Products boasts that the lower viscosity of water is what aids in penetrating the wood. I guess it depends on how thin you make your oil and whether you've added surfactants to the water. There's no clarification, so I'm left with comparing the properties of oil and water.

I find oil and oil-based products to be sneaky little bastards. Oil tends to creep all over everything. Oil-based paints spread out over everything. Oils, generally, have much lower surface tension compared to water (has to do with molecule polarity). Thus, so long as the deadwood is dry, Smith's CPES is going to be better at creeping into all the crevices and penetrate through the porous layers of wood. Ever try to water a patch of bare ground only to watch the water form dirty round globules which slide away without any friction? Do the same test with engine oil. It'll soak right in to the soil. That's the soak property I want from a wood hardener. You would need to add surfactants to the water to break the tension. There's no mention of surfactants the PC Products web site.

I'm old school when it comes to epoxies. If I'm told something works because of epoxy, it gets my attention. Turns out, the epoxy that PC Petrifier manufacturer sells is for filling wood, not preserving it.

As I said. I'll pony up some money to see how well PC Petrifier works. I'll report in with my findings.

Postscript: For shits and giggles, I just ordered 25-grams of Paraloid and I may as well get some pure Tung Oil while I'm at it. That brings me up to 5 products to test. I wonder how well my chop-saw is going to perform with all this crap soaked into the wood?
 
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#17
I have long wondered about glycols for this purpose, never seen any bonsai folk mention it and haven't tried it or even researched much.

Just did a quick google though, check out this thread from a boat forum. If you do look into it and come to any conclusions I'd like to hear what you think.
http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?93045-Anti-rot-Use-of-Polyethylene-Glycol
I experimented with glycol applications and in the end, was convinced it kills trees and could not be used as a preservative as it leeches out enough to poison and kill trees. I gave up on it. I have numerous long-term slip-shod preservative experiments going. Keep in mind most things that seriously arrest wood decomposition are toxic to living things so the whole research is pretty much a matter of degrees.
 
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#18
(I accidentally posted this to the wrong thread, so here its again)

I STAND CORRECTED ON AN EARLIER STATEMENT!!!!

PC Products DOES sell an epoxy-based wood hardener: PC-Rot Terminator (and I do love epoxies so very much)

If I happen to see that product at the hardware store, I'll get it as well and add it to the list of products to test. I'm now up to 6. The dead bald cypress is getting crowded.
 
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#19
My understanding is CPES, or any penetrating 2 part epoxy, is just essentially thinned epoxy, usually with a thinner of acetone--you can make the stuff yourself by thinning regular epoxy. The thinner you go the less strong it is. My experiments with penetrating epoxy is they usually do not penetrate much at all and when they do it is selective to the porosity of the wood. Experiments revealed that even with large porous pieces of wood, it does not penetrate enough to really be more than a surface treatment. Epoxy can form large areas of sealed wood not allowing it to ever dry out so it can actually backfire if the treatment is of basal wood that is perpetually in damp soil. Drying out the wood is the big challenge--I found an aquarium pump couple with a heated box filled with Damprid can dry hollows. heat lamps work too but are sketchy to use.
 

GrimLore

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#20
I'll pony up some money to see how well PC Petrifier works. I'll report in with my findings.
If I read correctly I am thinking you don't want to change the way the deadwood looks, just preserve it. If that is so I am guessing you will like the product :)

Grimmy
 

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