Waterlogged Wood Conservation Treatment

SP-11 Treatment to preserve waterlogged and excavated wood. It has been successfully tested and used by archaeologists and conservators for over 20 years and has significant benefits over other types of treatment used for water logged artefacts.

Since water soaks in and fills the cell walls of archaeological waterlogged wood, when removed from the water and dried, the tangential shrinkage can be 50-75% compared to 5-10% shrinkage in freshly cut wood. When left to dry on its own, this leads to radical shrinkage and degradation of the wood. Thus, a conservation treatment must be used to preserve the shape of these archaeological artefacts.

  • It is easy to use and does not need to be heated or diluted to penetrate.
  • SP-11 has small molecular weight polymers which allow for easy penetration.
  • It is highly soluble in water which also aides in easier penetration.
  • It does not break down in acid conditions.
  • Artefacts that may need to be re-glued can be once the wood has dried.
  • It will not add significant weight.
  • Treated wood is not sensitive to humidity or temperature changes.
  • SP-11 will not darken the wood leaving it looking more natural.

    Bulk drums are available, please contact us for more information.

    More information in 'Specification' tab below

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Waterlogged Wood Treatment 32oz (0.909 litre) - SP-11
P993-9092 993-9092
Pack Size: Each Price: £18.90 ex VAT Due in Stock
Waterlogged Wood Treatment 1 US Gallon (3.785 litre) - SP-11
P993-3785 993-3785
Pack Size: Each Price: £53.45 ex VAT Due in Stock
Waterlogged Wood Treatment 5 US Gallon (18.925 litre) - SP-11
P993-3785/5 993-3785/5
Pack Size: Each Price: £214.00 ex VAT Due in Stock

SP-11 is a formulation of non-toxic modified polymers with a high grade, high flash mineral solvent that contains no sulphur and has a very slow evaporation rate. Being water soluble, SP-11 penetrates the wood quickly and displaces the water. It coats the wood cells and capillary tubes to prevent them from shrinking as the moisture leaves during drying. This is similar to how Pentacryl works for stabilizing green wood. However, SP-11 is formulated specifically to compensate for the very high percentage of water in these waterlogged wooden artifacts.

When the treated wood is completely dry, a thin coat of SP-11 is left on the wood cell walls.

There have been many conservation methods to date including, but not limited to:

  • Polyethylene Glycol, PEG
  • Freeze Drying
  • Alcohol Treatment
  • Sucrose

All of these treatments have drawbacks and concerns of their own including the time it takes to impregnate the wood plus the treatments can involve a many step process and often include several types of treatments combined. The most commonly used method has been the use of PEG, Polyethylene Glycol.

However, there are some major drawbacks in using PEG to treat waterlogged or excavated wood:

  • It is difficult to get it to penetrate and may require the use of heat elements.
  • The penetration time is lengthy (can take several years or longer and often starts with a diluted solution).
  • PEG adds significant weight to the wood and can darken it considerably.
  • SP-11 is safe to use on wood that contains iron, such as nails, where PEG will eat the iron.
  • It is hygroscopic making the wood sticky under humid conditions and requiring artifacts to be stored or displayed in climate controlled areas.

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