Introduction: Microwave Solution for Woodworm

WARNING: Involves premeditated killing of small creatures!

How to rid wood invested with woodworm of the pesky little critters? Treatment with poison is a solution, but is messy and dangerous for humans if not done correctly.

A poisonless method is apparently to heat the infested wood in an oven for 24 hours at 100+ degrees Celsius, but that seems too much trouble and a waste of too much energy.

So I thought what about microwaving the wood? Microwaves excite water molecules so that they heat up to boiling point and maybe beyond. So why not microwave the infested wood. The moisture in the bodies of the woodworms should make them boil and die, while leaving the dry wood undamaged. (I've since found out that this method is indeed used in the wood industry, but I'm still taking some credit for the idea because I came up with it by myself.)

SAFETY WARNING: Wood can IGNITE when microwaved too long! Be very careful!

Step 1: Preparation

Of course the size of your pieces of wood is limited by the size of your microwave oven. In my case I'm still using a small 500 W unit from about 30 years back, but it had to do.

After measuring the inside of the oven, it was clear that 27 cm would be the maximum length I could go. Fortunately I was planning to use my piece of bug ridden oak plank for a project where that size would work nicely. So I cut up the piece of wood in four pieces, and was ready to go.

Step 2: Extermination Time

Because my oven is not very powerful, I put in only two pieces of wood at a time, and let the oven run for about 5 minutes. (Warning: In any more powerful oven it would be dangerous to microwave this long because of the danger of the wood igniting! As a safety measure examine the wood every 10 seconds or so to see how hot it is.)

When I opened the oven door after about two minutes, I heard a satisfying sizzling sound. Either some moisture or indeed insects non grata were being cooked.

After the five minutes was up, the wood was too warm to comfortably hold in my hands, and I presumed anything living inside should by fried by this time. I then repeated the process with the remaining two pieces.

After the pieces of wood had cooled down, I cut off the bits that were too far gone due to the insects' indiscriminate eating habits. Then I put the remaining wood through a thicknesser to clean them up, and was left with the four quite usable pieces in the picture. I've tested some varnish on the piece on the right, and it brings the natural colour out quite well, I think.

Comments

author
Yonatan24 (author)2017-05-23

Been googling this information in case I would need it in the future, and came here.

I wouldn't want to ruin our microwave, but if I needed this, I wouldn't want to fail. It sounds to me like the microwave radiation would kill them in seconds instead of a few minutes, waiting for the piece of wood to heat up, possible making the microwave kill itself if the piece of wood has a very low moisture content...

Wat do you think? Thanks :)

author
Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242017-05-23

*Possibly making the microwave kill itself.

author
mxx (author)Yonatan242017-05-23

I agree with you. I think it depends on how wet the wood is. If bone dry, a few seconds should be enough, and too long a time would certainly damage the oven because the energy is not absorbed. But if the wood contains any moisture, it would be difficult to time the procedure.

Fine Woodworking gives this warning to woodturners who dry wood in microwave ovens: "Never ever ever microwave wood for longer than a minute at a time. Wood combusts very easily, and WILL catch on fire in your microwave if you are not careful."

May something between 15 and 30 seconds should be safe, depending on the power of the oven and the size of the wood?

author
Yonatan24 (author)mxx2017-05-24

Makes sense. And aif you rwood is really dry, maybe you should put a small container of water beside the piece of wood, just to be safe. If you see that the water boiled, you should stop...

author
mxx (author)mxx2017-05-23

And to add to that, taking it out every 10 seconds while microwaving to see how hot it is, should give one a kind of safety measure.

author
annas211 (author)2017-02-01

or http://powderpost-beetle.com

author
mxx (author)annas2112017-02-01

Thanks, annas211!

author
Laggi1 (author)2015-11-20

I found!

www.treat-woodworm.com

microwave systems for treating woodworms

author
mxx (author)Laggi12015-11-22

Thanks, very interesting!

author
Edbed (author)2015-06-01

Microwaves are such FUN.

author
Stan1y (author)2015-05-31

Having left a bag of compost out over winter I discovered it was infested with slug eggs I've been microwaving that flower pot at a time to kill them as well

author
mxx (author)Stan1y2015-05-31

Great/murderous minds think alike?

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