[Greenbuilding] Timbersil (and alternatives to)

RT ArchiLogic at yahoo.ca
Mon Apr 11 11:16:25 PDT 2011

On Fri, 08 Apr 2011 21:03:38 -0400, Ron Cascio <roncascio at verizon.net>

> Having had the developer of TimberSil (Karen Slimak) at our house for  
> lunch last year and getting into the process enough to get confused, I  
> can say that simply dipping SYP in sodium silicate and air drying it  
> doesn't even come close to what it takes to make the product Rob.

I don't recall ever having used the word "dipping" as being part of the
method but I'm not surprised that the developer of a proprietary product  
describe her product in such a fashion so as to make it sound so
complicated and confusing as to discourage potential customers from making
it themselves.

The reality is that using sodium silicate solutions as a preservative has
been in common use for long before Ms. Slimak (and her great-x-##  
grandparents) was born.

In fact, I have a carton of duck eggs so-preserved (as has probably been
done by the Chinese for millennia) sitting in the pantry  ... and a couple
of reprints of a little book (if anyone wants one of them, you're welcome
to it) that was first published a century ago (1910) in which the original  
author gathered
together a collection of useful home-made items and practises that were
probably common knowledge to many farmers back then:

            "Handy Farm Devices "
             ( and how to make them )

(reprinted in Y2K by one of Leonard Lee's (ie the founder of Lee Valley
Tools  http://www.leevalley.com ) companies "Algrove Publishing" just up
the road in Almonte)

At the back of the book where there is a collection of miscellany, there
is a ~page-long section (my guess ~800 words or less) entitled "Preserving
Wood" wherein about a half-dozen or so different treatments and how to
achieve them are described.

One of them is a description for using borax (ie like the
proprietary product "TimBor" ?) and another is one using silicate of
potassa which, if one is familiar with waterglass, is often mentioned in
the same breath as sodium silicate.

Curious then, how simple and probably uneducated farmers (who probably
never learned how to read) a century-or-more back were able to utilise
waterglass solutions to effectively preserve stuff like eggs and wood  ...
but 21st C. urbanites (probably with post secondary educations and
super-powerful computing devices and a world of knowledge at their
fingertips) are befuddled by the whole thing.

re: BCJohn's point about knowing how effective a DIY treatment is:

I've never seen the Timbersil product and don't know anything about its
production process but I'd be confident in wagering that it's similar to
that which is used for making pressure-treated lumber using CCA or ACQ as
the preservative.

I would also be fairly confident in wagering that the target depth of
penetration of the preservative would be similar -- for CCA-treated lumber
the standard used to require a mere 3/16" for lumber intended for
above-grade use and a whole 3/8" (!) for lumber intended for below-grade
apps (ie PWFs).

To imbue the wood with the preservative (whether it be CCA, ACQ, sodium or
potassium silicate etc) all require soaking the wood in a heated saturated
solution for about a day (varies depending upon wood species/dimensions),
drying and repeating.

Commercial pressure-treating as the name implies, uses a pressurised
chamber ( and heat of course) to accelerate the preservative treatment,
not unlike the difference between using a pressure cooker instead of a
stock pot to poach
a bird.

I would hope that an aspiring Greenie doing their own waterglass wood
treatment would try to develop a solar-powered cooker rather than one that
uses non-renewables.

The point that I was hoping to get to before rambling on about the
particulars, is that it should be relatively simple to test the
effectiveness of a DIY treatment.

ie I would probably
	1. Cut a piece of the treated wood and measure the depth of preservative
penetration and if it's better than the industry-standard minimum (ie the
worst allowed by Law) then you've met one of the criteria and then

2. Take a piece of the treated wood and subject it to fire. If it doesn't
burn within the time specified by industry standard for the proprietary
product, then I'd say the treatment was effective.

... and so on.   No ?

As for convincing a Code official ... if they have a functioning brain and  
at least one good eye, ... well, you know.

=== * ===
Rob Tom
Kanata, Ontario, Canada
< A r c h i L o g i c  at  Y a h o o  dot  c a >
manually winnow the chaff from my edress if you hit "reply"

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