Get Diesel out of wood? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 06-20-2020, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Get Diesel out of wood?

I salvaged this piece of wood From the shoreline along the san francisco bay and i’ll be making a bench out if it. I didnt realize till i got it home, but there was a faint smell of diesel comingg from it.
Looks like the dark spot at the top may be diesel. Does anyone know how i could clean this? Would you just take soap and water to it? Thanks
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post #2 of 13 Old 06-20-2020, 03:31 PM
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post #3 of 13 Old 06-20-2020, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for that. Of course i’m seeing mostly cloudy skies for the next 10 days. But when it’s sunny i’ll give it a go if I dont find another solution
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post #4 of 13 Old 06-20-2020, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Now that i’m looking i’m seeing there’s a lot of info about this topic. I didnt realize it was such a common problem. I bet i’ll be able to find an answer
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post #5 of 13 Old 06-20-2020, 08:05 PM
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A dry mixture of 1 part baking soda to 10 parts Borax worked for me on concrete.

Mix it up, and cover the item with the mixture. Brush it off and re-apply as necessary.
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Last edited by Quickstep; 06-20-2020 at 08:14 PM.
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post #6 of 13 Old 06-22-2020, 09:27 AM
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Paint stripper?
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post #7 of 13 Old 06-24-2020, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Baking soda and borax...interesting. Maybe i’ll give that a try. And paint thinner is another good idea.
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post #8 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 10:53 AM
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its pressure treated, probably Douglas fir.

Retired engineer-bureaucrat in Oakland, CA. Been working with wood since the 1960's.
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post #9 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 12:31 PM
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I remember reading that a gunsmith used oven cleaner to remove oil from gun stocks. Nasty stuff so read the safety label and I'd use outdoors.

Craftsman 113.29992 Table saw, Craftsman 10" band saw, H. F. 10" drill press, MicroLux 7"x16" lathe, Dewalt 734 planer & Craftsman 6 1/8" jointer
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post #10 of 13 Old 06-25-2020, 12:32 PM
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I had a real oil leaker of a car back in the 80's... it blackened an area of about 4" in diameter where I parked my car on the concrete drive every night. It eventually accumulated to a thickness of about 1/4"... and black as asphalt or tar. I eventually got rid of the car after about 2 years. I used a pressure washer to remove the surface as best as I could, so no one would track the oil elsewhere or slip and fall. Every time it rained the oil would rainbow as it drained from the drive. One day I was cleaning my spray gun with paint thinner, and dumped the excess onto the stain that was left on the drive... now mind you... the stain was still black. To my surprise... the next day, after it dried... a lot of the stain faded. As it turned out, concrete is quite porous, and what was happening is the thinner did just that! It thinned the oil stain... thin enough for the oil to pass directly through the concrete. I kept applying the thinner each day when I got home from work (no scrubbing), just poured thinner on the spot, wetting it, and with each application it eventually faded completely. From start to finish I used about a gallon of paint thinner, over about a three month period and to this day there is no stain left. I don't know if it will work on wood the same way... but I do know it works on concrete.

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post #11 of 13 Old 07-01-2020, 01:57 AM Thread Starter
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I’m going to leave it sitting in the sun for a while and see what that does and move on from there.

Another question: I would normally not have pressure treated wood inside of a house, but i’m assuming that since this piece is fairly old and has been in the elements any chemicals are no longer present. Is this a safe assumption?
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post #12 of 13 Old 07-01-2020, 07:22 AM
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There's a lot of debate over the safety of pressure treated wood. Based on the evenly spaced slits you see in the surface, and the fact that you found it in the bay, my guess is that it may have been from a commercial dock or marina. Marine grade pressure treated lumber has more treatment in it than would be in the pressure treated lumber you'd buy at the big box store. The slits are put in there to help the treatment get deeper into the wood. That's what leads me to believe it's from a dock. "Normal" treated lumber has .40 pounds of treatment per cu ft of wood, marine grade is usually 1.0 and above. I'm not 100% sure of this, but I think marine grade pressure treated lumber still uses CCA (copper, chromium, arsenic) for the treatment whereas CCA is no longer used in residential treated lumber.

Information I read years ago claimed that the treatment chemicals were bonded to the cells of the wood and didn't leach out. That would tend to indicate that there's still treatment in there. Is it coming out; who knows?
I remember debates over making picnic tables of treated lumber and people saying that as long as you didn't put your food directly on the table it was safe. Yet, manufacturers stopped using CCA anyway except for marine.

You said you were making a bench with it. I might be OK with that. A breakfast table; maybe not so much...
It all depends on your comfort level. Not to be too discerning, but if you knew it was a plank from a historical ship, I might be able to get more excited about it, but if it's just a plank from a pier and you're concerned about the treatment (not to mention the diesel smell) I might let this one go...

Here's some reading.


http://www.americanpoleandtimber.com...pecguide-1.pdf

https://www.culpeperwood.com/wp-cont...ARINEguide.pdf

Last edited by Quickstep; 07-01-2020 at 07:25 AM.
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post #13 of 13 Old 07-01-2020, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. Yeah, i have no history on the piece, just found it in some rocks along the shore. I’m planning on selling this, and wouldnt want someone to put it in their house if there were chemicals coming off of it or if it was off-gassing anything, hence my initial diesel question. I’ll do some reading but if it’s going to be a hassle i’ll skip it.
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