“Here’s a mild chemical treatment recipe: Mix 10kg boric+15kg borax for 200lts water (warm enough to dissolve the borax in it). Puncture the bamboo nodes and fill it up with this solution. Let it stand saturated for a week. Let it dry and ta-daa, it’s ready to be used!” Best for indoor nature-friendly uses.

Sourabh Phadke YouTube channel
Soaking bamboo in sea water for a month is also very effective. Some soak the bamboo in a stream or river.


Bamboo Treatment: Boric-Borax Solution — 14 Comments

    • A little research suggests that while Borax is actually found in some foods, it should not be used as a preservative in contact with food. “Borax is not safe to ingest. According to the NLM’s Toxicology Data Network, borax is easy for the body to break down when either inhaled or swallowed. However, if inhalation or ingestion occurs, both serious poisoning and organ damage can result.”

  1. We use this borax/ boric acid/ water solution to strengthen and preserve our bamboo here in Belize. We cut the bamboo in 20ft lengths, harvesting usually around the time of the full moon. With long rebar rods, we pierce the membranes inside the bamboo, leaving the bottom membrane intact. Then we fill & soak the bamboo with the solution, letting it stand & soak vertically for a week. This way the bamboo lasts years longer, and it retains its luster even in the bright sun. Without this soaking method, it cracks, decays and is eaten by molds, termites & insects. In our off-grid lodge here, we use bamboo here for porch balusters, outdoor shower walls, building greenhouses, furniture and other non-structural uses. .

    • There are entire books written about this. Lots of details, plus it depends on how you’ll use the bamboo structurally. So it’s a big topic. A lot of the information is free online if you spend enough time searching for keywords Bamboo treatment or Bamboo preservation.

  2. I use split bamboo sticks around 50cm height for making lanterns. Can i boil them in this solution instead of soaking? Is boiling harmful for the person? Would soaking be enough? Thanks!

  3. I intend to use split bamboo for the floor of I hut I am constructing.
    Can the bamboo poles be split first and then soaked in the borax solution for more complete absorbtion?
    For soaking bamboo in sea water, will splitting the bamboo make the treatment quicker.
    Will the 2 treatment methods be more effective than just one?

    • I would say yes to both questions, but this is mostly a guess. You’ll need to keep searching if you want definitive answers.

  4. Why can’t you just paint a sealant on the bamboo? I plan to make an indoor bamboo shower enclosure so do I need to treat it with the borax/boric solution?

    • Try it and see. Bamboo deteriorates very rapidly (some kinds faster than others) and a surface treatment in a humid area may not be sufficient.

    • Maximum treatment. Maybe use multiple treatment and harvesting methods: Harvesting at the right time of year, choosing the most durable species, soaking in borax solution or pumping it in, smoking it, etc. And, raise it off the ground and separate it from concrete, because concrete wicks moisture.

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