Do you have a perfect green wood slice that you’re itching to start working on?
Well, there is no need to wait around for it dry out (which could take weeks!). Instead, you can speed up that drying process by giving it a good soak in alcohol.
But, can you really dry wood slices with denatured alcohol?
When a wood slab is soaked in denatured alcohol, the wood soaks it up like a sponge. As a result, the alcohol starts to mix with the water inside the green wood slice. As the ethanol in the alcohol evaporates and vaporizes, it wicks away the water, until very little moisture is left behind in the wood slice.
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How Do You Know If Wood Is Even Dry Enough For Woodworking?
When we dry wood, (through a process called Seasoning), we are aiming to try and get its moisture content down to 20% or less.
‘Moisture Content’ is simply a way of measuring the amount of water naturally found in a piece of wood.
Now, freshly-cut green wood has a moisture content of 100%, an amount that is way higher than seasoned wood.
Whilst KDAT lumber (Kiln Dried After Treatment) – which is the kind of timber you by from your local lumber yard – typically has a moisture content of 19% or less.
If you want to know if your wood slab is dry enough for woodworking, you have two quick options;
Use a Moisture Meter
These handheld devices can accurately measure just how much moisture is in the wood.
They’re pretty inexpensive, and General Tool’s has a decent digital moisture detector in the form of their MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter.
Spritz Test The Surface
For a less accurate (but still pretty reliable) method, you can try the spritz test:
- Fill a spray bottle with water.
- Spray a light spritz of water onto the surface of the slab.
- If the wood quickly soaks up all of that water, (in less than 10 minutes), then the wood is dry enough for you to start working with.
- However, if the water just settles on the surface, then that means the wood is still full of water. And so it needs more time to dry.
How Long Do Wood Slices Take To Dry?
Well, it depends on your choice of drying method;
- Oven-Dry Method
If you dry wood slices using an oven, then it can take over 24 hours for the wood to bake well enough.
- Denatured Alcohol Method
If you use denatured alcohol to dry wood cookies, then you are looking at around 4 to 12 hours (depending on how thick the slab is).
Also, it is worth noting that the time of year matters too. If the weathers hot, the process will go a lot faster than during colder months.
- Microwave Method
This is a bit more of an unorthodox method. But if you don’t have access to an oven or denatured alcohol, then microwaving the slab dry can be an option.
This method involves running the wood through a number of heating rounds. You heat the wood (at 50% power) for 15 seconds. And then you follow that by allowing the wood to cool down for 10 minutes at room temperature.
And, depending on the size of the wood slab, this process can take anywhere from a few hours up to a few days to complete.
So, How Do You Dry Wood Slices Quickly? (Fastest Method)
This really comes down to personal preference.
In my opinion, the fastest hands-on method is to dry wood slices using a microwave.
But, the fastest hands-off method, is to simply dry those slabs of wood using the denatured alcohol evaporation approach.
Where Can I Get Denatured Alcohol For Wood Cookies?
First of all, it is worth pointing out that denatured alcohol is a solvent that is so strong you can use it as a fuel additive. It is toxic and shouldn’t be consumed or applied to skin.
In other words, this is nothing like the surgical spirit Rubbing Alcohol (sometimes referred to as isopropyl rubbing alcohol).
You can get denatured alcohol from most good DIY hardware stores and online home stores.
Help! Why Are My Wood Slices Cracking?
Wood is like a natural sponge. It expands when it fills with moisture, and shrinks as that moisture drys out and evaporates.
So as your wood slices dry out – especially if they dry out very quickly – they are prone to cracking and splitting.
But if you want your wood slices to have a rustic appearance, then those cracks are actually going to make them look more authentic.
Still, How Do You Dry Wood Slices Without Cracking Them?
If the cracking in the wood slices is something you want to avoid, then you need to allow the lumber to dry out slowly.
Oven-drying wood slabs takes longer, but it greatly reduces the chance of your wood cookies splitting apart and cracking up.
Want to learn more about seasoning wood? Well then, click here to discover the best way to bring down that moisture content slowly; How To Season Wood.
Whether you decide to quickly dry your wood cookies with an alcohol soak, or simply opt to oven-dry them, there is no need to wait more than about a day for them to dry.
Wood slabs soaked in denatured alcohol take less than a day (typically fewer than 12 hours) to dry. However, this process won’t completely dry the wood of all moisture. But it should still be enough to help bring the wood slices MC (Moisture Content) levels down to around 20% or less.