How to Cure Driftwood

If you prefer your decorations to have a natural touch, driftwood, for instance, is an option for decorating your fish tank to match the rest of your natural decor However, driftwood needs to be cured before it can be used. Curing removes the tannins, the biomolecules that can cause aquarium water to turn brown, from the driftwood and neutralises any acids in it so that, when the driftwood is placed in your fish tank, the water does not become discoloured and pH balance of the tank remains at the proper level for your fish.

Scrub down the entire piece of driftwood using a stiff scrub brush. Avoid the use of soaps or chemicals and use water only. Rinse the driftwood thoroughly.

Scrub the driftwood one more time using non iodised salt. Rinse thoroughly.

Soak the entire piece of driftwood in a large non-metallic tub or bucket filled with water. Leave the piece of driftwood submerged in the water for a minimum of one to two weeks. This process will allow for total saturation of the driftwood. If desired, you may add a one pound box of baking soda to the water. The baking soda will help to neutralise acid and help sterilise the driftwood.

Allow excess tannins to be removed from the driftwood by leaving it to soak in the tub of water. These tannins will leach out of the driftwood. Tannins left in the wood may cause discolouration in aquarium water and can slightly lower the pH of that water.

Check on the soaking driftwood regularly. If the water becomes dark or discoloured because of the release of tannins, empty and replace it with fresh water. Rinse the driftwood before placing it into the clean water.

Continue to change the dark or discoloured water until it does not change colour for several days in a row. When this happens, the wood has been cured.

Place the cured driftwood into your aquarium in the desired position.


Driftwood can also be boiled. The boiling process will allow for the tannins to leach out much more quickly. Boiling the driftwood will also sterilise it as well as kill any algae or fungal spores. The curing process through boiling requires only one to two hours of boiling time.

Things You'll Need

  • Scrub Brush
  • Non Iodized Salt
  • Baking Soda (optional)
  • Non-metallic tub or large bucket
  • Water
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About the Author

Geoff Hineman has been a professional writer since 2001. His work has appeared in Dodge Magazine, The Ann Arbor Paper and online. Hineman holds a Master of Arts in writing from Northern Michigan University.