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Using Bark for Basing

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Quick question about using natural bark. What, if anything, needs to be done to prepare it for your mini? I mean obviously it would need primer, etc., if you are going to paint it, but is there anything that needs/should be done prior to using it?

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You should definitely wash it prior to priming. And there's a pretty good argument for baking it (say 375°F/190°C for 45 min, though that's just a guess) to make sure that any bugs there might still be there are really dead.

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I use Mosser Lee Forest Bark for rocks and such.  I got mine at Home Depot.  All I did was prime and paint.  Just be sure to let each layer dry completely before adding the next or it can give you some problems.  If you are just grabbing bark from outside I would definitely wash and bake like Doug Sundseth recommended.  

 

mosser-lee-grow-media-1151-64_1000.thumb.jpg.37c64a6ef1e8565db38471d0697efa1a.jpg

 

This is an example of a rock I did using the bark. 

 

1812699868_longhorn.jpg.8cc8fabb515ed63f4ce376a221ee098a.jpg

 

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I use a lot of pine bark. I freeze it after I collect it to kill any critters. Otherwise I don't do anything. 

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I've used the "Orchid Bark" that is sold for reptiles. Bit of a misnomer, as it's pine bark FOR orchids. i sprayed some disinfectant on it and left it to dry on an extremely hot, sunny window sill. That was 2 years ago, no smells or weird growths so far ^_^

 

Edit- Freezing would work too

Edited by Kuroneko
Its late and I'm tired :)
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Generally speaking if you buy something prepackaged from a hardware, pet store, or place like walmart they would have already done something to kill any bugs. The US at least has all sorts of laws about spreading invasive pests.

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Thanks for all the advice! I'm looking at possibly buying some but also have loose bark in my yard now too, which is why I was asking. This helps a lot!

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I've used pine bark to make large rocks for terrain. The stuff works beautifully. After making sure nothing is alive with heat or the freezer, I spray paint it, drybrush it, then hot glue it. I never took any pictures of the bark rocks but I could if you think it would be helpful. I also saw a post about making a snow base with bark but I never tried it myself. Here's a link to the blog.

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Cork bark is also really nice looking and very easy to cut. If you can't source any, compressed cork coasters from IKEA can make surprisingly good rocks when you break it apart

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A note re: pest-killing

Baking is more likely to kill anything living in there than freezing.

 

Many bark-living critters, especially in high-country species like many conifers, are able to reduce their metabolisms to survive freezing. Whereas there aren't many complex organisms I know of offhand that will survive extended exposure — say, half an hour or more — to temperatures over 80 degrees C. (Maybe tardigrades, they're just incredible).

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On 7/3/2018 at 4:37 PM, Doug Sundseth said:

You should definitely wash it prior to priming. And there's a pretty good argument for baking it (say 375°F/190°C for 45 min, though that's just a guess) to make sure that any bugs there might still be there are really dead.

 

What temp (do you think) would cause the bark to start charring, emit smoke, or spontaneously combust? 

 

Asking because I’d like to know how much safety margin there is. Also, where did 375° come from? Why not 385 or 300 even?

 

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If you're worried about causing a fire you can always use steam. I steamed some pine bark for about 5 to 7 minutes. I have no idea how long is really needed but steaming gets the wood very hot without risk of fire. Quick, too. It can warp a bit and will need to dry for a couple days in a windowsill before using but it worked for me. I don't mind warping because I only used the bark for terrain.You can always trim the bottom flat for basing if needed. One piece split apart horizontally after drying but a bit of hot glue took care of it. Never tried the oven method but I'm tempted. 

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2 hours ago, TGP said:

 

What temp (do you think) would cause the bark to start charring, emit smoke, or spontaneously combust? 

 

Asking because I’d like to know how much safety margin there is. Also, where did 375° come from? Why not 385 or 300 even?

 

 

Flash point for wood is 572F/300C, so you have lots of margin. And 375° because that's the temp that we cook pizza at. ::D:

 

Needs to be hot enough to kill things and higher temp will dry any residual moisture quicker. Other than that, it's where I would start, not anything that is tested and approved. By anyone. Ever.

 

:rolleyes:

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According to the internet 250-300 for 30-60 minutes will kill any bugs and make the wood safe for your pet lizard.

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45 minutes ago, cmorse said:

According to the internet 250-300 for 30-60 minutes will kill any bugs and make the wood safe for your pet lizard.

Fascinating. Why did the internet think bugs would be unsafe for my (hypothetical) pet lizard? You’d think the bugs would be like little boxed lunches for lizard. :upside:

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