The pressure treatment of wood has hit the headlines over the years for both right and wrong reasons. So it’s understandable for one to be cautious, especially when this wood type is mentioned. So, is wolmanized wood the same as pressure treated? One reader asks.
Yes, wolmanized wood is a brand of pressure-treated wood meant for heavy-duty outdoor projects such as constructions, support pillars, and more. It is pressure treated using chromate copper arsenate (CCA), a preservative that provides structural protection against destruction by termites and fungal decay. This wood type gets the name from Dr. Karl Heinrich Wolman, who discovered this wood preservation technique more than a century ago in Germany.
Around the early t2000’s, there were widespread health concerns over the arsenic component of CCA; thus, the United States abolished the use of this compound in the pressure treatment of wood. Less toxic chemicals got adopted instead. The pressure treated wood you come across in the construction areas today is treated using chemicals such as Alkaline Copper Quaternary, which poses no health or environmental risk.
Is Wolmanized wood safe?
According to laboratory studies that have been conducted over the years in the garden, playground structures, studies on vegetables, plus research by other bodies, CCA available in the wolmanized wood is safe provided you follow the recommendations on handling.
EPA carried out 8 years of studies on wolmanized wood, and its benefits outweigh risks, and therefore they recommended modest precautions, more or less the same to those that apply to the non treated wood.
I grew up in a woodworking family, and all this time, we used and still use wolmanized wood for tomato stakes, mushroom trays, grape stakes, vegetable garden, planter boxes, and kernels with no cases of adverse effects. Additionally, this wood has widespread use in the national parks, animal sanctuaries, and many more, proving it is safe.
How Can You Tell if Wood Is Wolmanized?
A wolmanized wood is technically a pressure treated wood, and there are several methods that you can use to tell whether or not wood is pressure treated. Below are some of the ways you can use to determine if the wood is treated so that you avoid instances of food poisoning.
- Check for the Tag
If you’re in the market for pressure-treated wood, you need to check the end tags, usually at the end of the wood, to confirm that it’s indeed pressure-treated.
In the modern pressure treatment of wood, chemicals such as Copper and Tebuconazole are used mainly. The role of Copper as a chemical is to protect the wood against fungi and bacteria. It, therefore, helps to increase the durability of the wood.
Tebuconazole performs the role of preventing the growth of fungi. So if you happen to see any sign of the two chemicals at the end of your wood, it is pressure treated.
- The Use of Fact Sheets
Usually, you’d expect pressure treated wood to have something like a tag that indicates the chemical used in its treatment. However, this might not always be the case. So if you are out shopping for pressure treated wood and does not have a tag, request a fact sheet from the seller.
The sheet should indicate the chemical used in the treatment of the wood. If the lumber has both Copper and Tebuconazole, then you know for sure it is pressure-treated wood.
- Smell the Wood
The Smelling of the wood sounds unusual; however, it is one of the sure ways of telling whether or not wood is pressure treated. All pressure treated woods have an oily smell. The non treated wood has a natural scent.
- You Can Tell Pressure Treated Wood by Looking
Yes, this is another method that you can use to tell if the wood is pressure treated. However, beginners find it hard to apply this method. Here’s what to look for in a pressure treated wood.
Treated wood has a dark green or brown color. Even if you are dealing with old wood, you could still tell if it’s treated or not. Considering that old wood is likely to turn gray, you can cut sections and observe the color of the wood’s inner parts.
- Check for the Stamping
We all know that pressure treated wood contains chemicals that are toxic and can cause different health complications. Sometimes this toxicity extends to the environment as a whole.
So, if you have concerns about this wood and you’d love to avoid using it, then check for the AWPA code on the wood.
The code offers some insight into the category the wood belongs to and its most suitable uses.
How Long Does Wolmanized Wood Last?
A Wolmanized wood can last 40 years or more depending on the environment and how you maintain it.
During lumber pressure treatment, loads of woods are arranged inside a huge cylindrical chamber known as a retort. The retort has a door on one end that is airtightly sealed, after which waterborne chemicals are infused into the wood.
These preservative chemicals help prevent rot and damage by insects, especially when in the exterior environment. Among the most common uses of pressure treated wood is the creation of decks. Pressure treated wood makes a good construction material for external structures because of its ability to last for many years. You can help increase your lumber’s service life by sealing it with the best wood sealers for pressure treated wood. These formulas come with protection against water and UV light, causing discoloration and protection against molds. One such product that you can use to protect your pressure treated wood is Ready Seal; it’s a deck stain and sealer in one. You can buy it here.
Uses of Wolmanized Wood
Here are some of the most common uses of Wolmanized wood:
- It’s excellent for pilings
- This wood type is suitable for highway construction;
- They make good poles, piles, and posts used as structural components on gardens
- They are great for fence posts
- Used for shakes and shingles
- They make good cooling towers
- These woods are perfect for marine or freshwater use.
There are still many ongoing studies on the pressure treatment of wood, and the environmental preservation bodies will likely approve more chemicals for this role in the coming years. So don’t expect the use of pressure treated timber to stop anytime soon. Here’s a question that I keep coming across almost every other day…
Is Wolmanized Wood the Same as Pressure Treated?
The brief answer to this question is Yes! It is just a brand of pressure treated wood usually great for heavy-duty projects such as highway construction and many more. With the right handling, this wood does not pose any health risk. So if you decide to use it for your projects, ensure that you handle it the right way.
I hope you have found this post helpful and that it has answered some of your questions, if not all, regarding Wolmanized wood. If you’d like to share your thoughts or suggestions, kindly feel free to drop it in the comment section below.