How to Kill Bugs in Wood: My FREE Decorative Logs

November 5, 2014 | by Jocie (email) |


With our new house and beautiful white brick fireplace, I really wanted to add some decorative logs to the fireplace decor. If you saw my post yesterday on my Thanksgiving Mantel, you saw these beautiful logs in action. I just wasn’t sure where to get these pretty logs I see in magazines and amazing blogger homes.

So I put it on my personal FB page, asking my local friends where I could find pretty, round logs. Some people suggested an arborist or tree cutter. But my sweet brother-in-law, Chris offered me wood from their backyard, where he had cut up a fallen tree last year. I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical. It was probably going to be ugly wood, right? I mean, certainly you have to pay for pretty wood.

When I got to their house, there were vines and stuff ALL OVER the wood pile, from a summer neglected. But me, Ethan, and Chris picked out some logs of varying diameter that we thought would fit the bill.

On the way home, Ethan was like “Are you going to do something to kill any bugs that might be in the wood?”  Ummmmmmmm, I guess that’s something I should have thought of. So, I did some research and found a great article from Bayer Advanced on Pest-Free Firewood!

So, I had all these logs, that maybe had bugs, termites, beetles, spiders…all things that creep me out and cause me to lay awake at night. Fortunately, they were all fairly small and of similar length, and while I could have sprayed them with pesticides (not ideal with kids), or freeze them (too impulsive for that one), I decided to bake them.


I stacked as much in the oven as I could and set it for its lowest setting, which was 170 degrees on my oven. Then, I baked it for one hour, checking it every 15 minutes to make sure nothing was burning. I haven’t seen any bugs thankfully, and hopefully never will.

One reader, Jim H.  also added, “For logs like that I think 250º for 2-3 hours would be better toward a bug free log. Getting the wood down to 12% moisture content will make it an unfavorable habitat for bugs. Of course the higher temperature will cause an increase in checking as the outside dries faster than the inside. Also stacking the wood tight in the oven reduces the effectiveness of drying. All kiln dried lumber is stacked with sticks at 90º between each layer to maximize air circulation.” Thanks, Jim!

I left them in the oven to cool, and then when Ethan got home, he busted out his table saw and cut them all to even lengths. Stay tuned for what I did with all my log scraps! Thanks so much, Chris and Erin, for my FREE decorative logs!


And now they sit, and mighty pretty I think, on my fireplace.


What do you think? How to kill bugs in wood – what do you do??!?
As Always, thanks for reading!

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32 Responses
  1. Jim H. says:

    I think the Bayer site was speaking more to baking craft sized branches (twigs). While most critters like to hang out just beneath the bark, one hour for a 4″ log at 175º for is going to be insufficient to get the borers that seem to be showing the frass evidence in the end cut in of a couple of your logs. For logs like that I think 250º for 2-3 hours would be better toward a bug free log. Getting the wood down to 12% moisture content will make it an unfavorable habitat for bugs. Of course the higher temperature will cause an increase in checking as the outside dries faster than the inside. Also stacking the wood tight in the oven reduces the effectiveness of drying. All kiln dried lumber is stacked with sticks at 90º between each layer to maximize air circulation.

    For a little more show, select some different woods with higher contrast end-grain, such as red or white oak and black locust. If they are purely decorative, one can amplify the grain of almost any wood with a little linseed oil, or tung oil.

    • Jocie says:

      Jim – I’m so glad you responded! you sound like a guy who knows how to kill some bugs!!! I’ll add your input into the post so hopefully others can benefit from your wisdom. I like the idea of different woods, but was really happy with my free woods from limited selection, and i think it looks really pretty! 🙂 Thanks again.

    • Diana says:

      Hi, I have a rather large log/stump that I want to use outside as an end table for my bench. There are tiny black beetles all over it. I want to keep the bark on it. Definitely TOO BIG for oven. What can I do?

      • Amanda says:

        Hope this post finds you. I just had the same issue. And actually found some advice from a lizard company. I have a huge log I wanted to make into a chandelier and hang in my kitchen but wanted to make sure it was sanitary. They said to soak it in a bleach and water solution – 1/2 cup bleach to 1 gallon water. Allow your piece to soak for 24 hours. This will not only kill bugs but any bacteria in it too. Once that is finished you need to soak iflt for another 1-2 days in water. Chnageing the water every few hours. This will extract the bleach from the wood. Once that is finished then you need to allow the piece to dry for a few days. It seems like a long process but for where I want to use mine – the precaution is necessary! Hope that helps!

        • Manal Batmani-Bari says:

          I have redwood logs that i want to use as outdoor tables. They have been outside for 5 years and I’m now ready to use them (of course i didn’t read all the precautions to pre the logs till now) my questions 1. Is it too late given they have been outside for so long? 2. How can I tell if they are bug infested (inside)? 3. What can I do to treat the bugs and to ensure that When I start to seal the logs/tables that I’m not sealing in a bunch of bugs 4. Would you recommend resin, epoxy, or polyurethane?

    • Jennifer Piccolo says:

      Hello there. I am a complete amateur and a city girl. My husband is a master Carpenter with hands of gold and I’ve been dying to make some tables with him for years. We recently bought a home in NJ and had to remove a gigantic white oak tree from our property due to it rubbing against our garage. I had the company leave a huge stump and two large logs hoping to use the wood in the future for a project against my husband’s advice, as he didn’t want it to be seen. I told them to place it in the wooded part of our property out of sight laying on the ground. Is there anyway to preserve these pieces to use in the future? Such as keeping the bugs out and keeping it from rotting? I know a lot of work will have to be done but I’m willing to do it.

  2. That bottom log you should let Ethan have. It’s spalted maple and he could turn it into a nice jewelry box or something.

  3. Kama says:

    What would you do with a piece that is WAY too big for the oven?


    • Oliveira Jr says:

      It may sound weird but you can immerse large wood pieces inside the pool. One or two days the bugs and beetles will be dead. Pay attention on iron parts, they stay rusted and blur the wood. Observe the top of water. May be you find some bug using snorkel… they are pests.

      Huge pieces, e.g. shelves, well, are very complicated. Hair dryers can be useful. Hot air inside the holes may put away them or make them roasted, but there is no guarantee that will work very well. They let eggs behind also.

      My last sugestion is alcohol with syringe and needle inside the holes. Pay attention if the wood has wax or varnish as covering. Alcohol can smudge your furniture. It takes a lot of time.

      Cheers from Brazil!

  4. Elaine says:

    Great post!! I am only using twigs but baked at 200 for 20 minutes like for pinecones.

  5. Tammy says:

    Thank you! Great Info.

  6. dean says:

    i have some logs around a firepit that i’ve had outside for a few years. they are now all pretty much junk as the bugs and termites got to them. does anyone know how to make a log weatherproof and bug-proof while keeping them outside? i talked to a guy and he suggested spraying them with diesel fuel…i told him it was to be for logs around a firepit and he explained that the deisel gets absorbed into the wood and bugs hate it….and also it is a slow burning fuel. still don’t like the idea of that around a firepit. any ideas? also my neighbor said polyurethane but i can’t see how that would completely seal the wood.

  7. Mike says:

    Needed some sticks or small logs for reptile tank , approximately 2 inches was told by my reptile supplier that 250 degrees for about an hour hour-and-a-half should be fine to kill the bugs

  8. Amanda S. says:

    What about 1-2 inch think twigs? Would it be the same oven settings for those? I’m making ornaments out of them.

  9. Amanda S. says:

    What about 1-2 inch thick twigs? Would it be the same oven settings for those? I’m making ornaments out of them.

  10. newbee says:

    Hello, i built this pretty awesome table for my daughter’s room, this being my first wood project, i checked for signs of bugs, didi nit find anything, i stained the wood black ( my kids choice ), sealed the wood with polyurethane, then put a coat of gloss. it looks pretty good, the table had been in her room for about 3 months and all was good, until a couple days ago, she wake me up in the middle of the night because she heard a scratching sound, i went over and it was something in the woo, i immediately took the table out, now the kid is sad, because her table is gone, anything i can do to kill the bugs inside or is this firewood??

    any help or advice is much appreciated


  11. Donna says:

    I have several 14″ slices of pine at about 1/2″ thick. I’m using them for centerpieces for my daughter’s wedding. What is your baking recommendations? Heat? Time?


  12. Dave says:

    I have an old microwave oven that I use. I cut the logs to 16 inches long and cook them until an internal temperature of around 250F. I think most bugs would be cooked when that temperature is reached. The nice thing about the microwave is that the wood is heated up evenly (not by conduction – from the surface to the center) so I am confident that the whole piece is heated and no bug can survive.

  13. Anto says:

    Hi all, this is been very helpful! I want to transfer some pictures on wood slices and I was wondering if it’s enough to bake the slices for about 1 hour. I understand this will kill any bugs, but once the decorations are hung how do I know that they won’t be attracted to the wood in the house?
    Do you use anything to prevent them from coming back?
    Many thanks!

  14. Maria says:

    A few years ago my husband made us a mantle out of a huge log he salvaged. I was sitting nursing the baby and all of a sudden I saw saw dust floating down. Then a bug popped out of the log and dissapeared back in. I called him and made him come home from work and remove the mantle immediately. Shoulda learned my lesson. He cut some wood slices for me to make some gifts with and I was pleased how my sharpie art was turning out. Well this morning I realized there damp spots appearing and I poked at one with a pin and a dead larvae of some sort came out. Some of the spots are powder. He had put them in a dehydrator for a day, because I sneeze when it’s in the oven. Now I’m baking them already partially decorated. Will see what happens. Uugh.

  15. Lorraine says:

    I’m in party-pooper mood- what on earth is wrong with you people? Baking? Microwave? Diesel? I truly despair! Its only a decoration! Personally I wouldn’t kill the bugs in the first place- I’d just pick them up- if I see one and take it outside. They don’t bother me, they have little enough place to live with us humans around – spraying, squashing etc.
    However your log pile does look pretty, if a little pointless. Have you though about leaving the wood outside in an ecological insect hotel log stack for the bugs, when you next change the look?

    • Sheila says:

      Well you would be despairing if wood borer beetles slowly destroyed all your wood in your house. That is what the “dust” was from one comment. Too small to see the beetles until they drill holes into things about the size of the head of a pin. And don’t get me started on termites. Geez, you’re incredibly naive if you don’t think they’re going to do damage. And yes, they can in a short amount of time. That is why you erradicate before bringing inside.

  16. EM says:

    A large branch fell from a tree in my yard, and I’d love to make a wind chime out of it. It looks like it was dead for a while before it fell, so I’d like to harden it so I can drill holes to hang glass from. Any suggestions on how to harden and dry it? Someone told me to use antifreeze, but I have pets so hesitate to use that even though they shouldn’t be near it. Also getting rid of it after soaking the wood would be tough.

  17. Trina says:

    The pieces I have are huge and needed for a wedding event. How do I treat them all the advice above would be too heavy for me to do. These pieces are fresh cut and probably 2 feet tall and 24-36 “ round. I have them in the back of my husbands truck for now. Can’t load and unload by myself. Could I spray them while in the back of his truck and use them inside of the church in two weeks.

  18. Margaret Kleciak says:

    A friend gave us a white birch log candle holder. After a while I noticed these tiny pin head sized bugs crawling around.

    I threw out the gift (which had black residue on the bottom) and all my houseplants (for fear they were infected too) Vacuumed a lot, sprayed with insect killer from the garden store and they seem to be gone. I was so concerned for my dog and cat but I seem to have gotten it taken care of.
    Does anyone know what these were

  19. John W. McGuire says:

    I have done alot of research on how to preserve my logs and lumber, I found a product that has taken care of all my bug, mold, and rot problems. Once you have treated your logs and lumber they are treated for life. Check it out its called TIMBOR it is a derivity of Borax it is safe in any enviroment It is a natural pesticide and wood treat. I have treated the underside of my house with timbor great stuff. It is also used as a cotton spray in the south. You can also use salt water solution (mix 1/2 cup to gal. water) Not as good as timbor.

  20. Salle Huber says:

    I am moving from California to the midwest and want to bring some cool wooden decorative items, like a wooden ladder and a little bench. that I have kept out on my patio here in sunny CA. How do I de-bug/prepare them for the move? I don’t want to leave them behind, but I also don’t want them bringing bugs into my moving truck.

  21. Missie coffman says:

    I’m tearing pallets apart to
    Reclaim wood can I bake them in the over then stain them? Or paint? What way do you suggest

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