Borate Wood Treatments for Log Homes

The National Park Service uses Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate (DOT Borate) treatments in its efforts to preserve historic structures and outdoor wooden sculptures (like totem poles) from the elements.

Derived from the element Boron, borates are naturally occurring, ubiquitous, and like many compounds of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon, borates are present in soils, rocks, freshwater, seawater and sea salt. Like nitrogen compounds, borates provide essential nutrition for plant growth. High concentrations of borates are found in dry lake beds and mined from extensive underground deposits in North America.

Because borates present minimal environmental impact and a proven defense against termites infestations and molds, they represent a significant solution for wood preservation on many levels. Well known for their preservation value among log home builders and owners, borate treatments can be used to protect both exterior and interior wood.

Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate (DOT) is a boron compound, proven effective as a preservative for wood. In its dry state, it is commercially available as a white powder which is easily dissolved in water. Applied by dipping, spraying, or brushing, water-based DOT solutions are colorless and odorless, with minimal impact on the natural color of wood.

The toxicity level of Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate (DOT) for humans is less than that of table salt (sodium chloride), and it is not listed as a carcinogen, although it is extremely toxic for insects. However, DOT is not quickly eliminated from human and animal systems, and it is always advisable to use a respirator when spraying borate solutions or any type of paint or coating. Another wise precaution is a pair of Nitrile gloves worn during any type of brushing or spraying procedure.

After borate wood preservative treatments have dried completely, they are compatible with interior and exterior wood finishes. However, borates should never be blended with water-based wood finishes, because doing so will compromise the appearance and effectiveness of the finish. If a light borate film is visible on surfaces where the treatment didn't soak fully into the wood before drying, this is easily removed with steel wool or fine sandpaper.

DOT has been effective as a flame retardant for the cotton batting used in mattresses for years, with no evidence of ill effects. It is also used as a flame retardant for cellulose attic insulation, and composite wood panels.

If you have any questions about the use and availability of DOT borates, please contact us using the phone number at the top of this page, or visit us at our north location on the west I-35 frontage near Braker Lane, or our south location on the west frontage of 290 in Oak Hill.

Additional information about borates can be found on these websites:

US Environmental Protection Agency - epa dot gov

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission cpsc dot gov

U. S. Food and Drug Administration fda dot gov