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best method of substrate sterilization?


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Running an oven for hours on end to simply sterilize a small amount of gathered rotted wood seems wasteful and inefficient. There has got to be a better method than that. I've contemplated boiling wood over a fire, using a grill to bake it, or a pressure cooker. Since I do not have the latter, I'm contemplating the other choices. Does anyone have any experience or ideas about this? I have all this rotted wood sitting around that I need to sterilize.. Although I hear some people don't sterilize theirs.

 

What's your best method of sterilizing substrate?

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People tell me I'm wrong for doing this but I get a whole rotting log that would fit inside my microwave. I soak it in water for a while, then put it on a container inside the microwave. I do sessions of 6 minutes each, after the fourth session you could see ants, mites, and even centipedes start crawling out of it. Keep doing this until you see no life forms crawling around. After this, you have your heat treated breeding log. If you aren't going to use it as a breeding log, simply just break the pieces off that you need. I have a microwave I keep outside strictly for this.

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What about boiling in water? Then straining the excess water afterwards? Or would it end up too mushy, you think?

 

Microwave is an interesting idea, though, especially being able to see everything crawling out.

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In the last few years that I've been gathering rotted oak I've never once heat treated any of it. I've literally run about 300 gallons of rotted oak through a food processor to grind it up and used it just like that as substrate. So far I've had no problems with pests. Maybe the food processor is killing the pests, I'm not sure. I understand the reasons for heat treating, but I've found it unnecessary and I've saved a lot of time by not doing it. Heat treating may be killing beneficial microbes and other important elements in the wood as well.

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I microwave anything that needs to be sterilized, leaf litter, rotten wood, old substrate that I want to reuse or substrate that's become infested with pests but is still technically usable, etc., seems to work great! :)

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  • 2 months later...

I have tried putting dirt in a plastic bag, then boiling it in 195 degrees F water for 1 min. This seemed somewhat effective, as a few antsin the soil were injured, but maybe putting it in the water a little longer might kill all the harmful creatures...

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I usually don't sterilize any leaves I bring back unless I see pests in them, mostly because sometimes I find pseudo scorpions and I know those eat some pests, however I usually bake wood by putting it in direct sunlight for a few hours, this generally kills most pests like centipedes (which I usually take out of the cooked substrate to freak out my sister lol) and worms, however it doesn't kill.. some thing inside the substrate , but that thing doesn't hurt grubsand im assuming it's crane fly larvae.

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