There are few materials with the same natural charm as driftwood. Its uniqueness as a piece of lumber makes it a sought-after component for all kinds of craftsmen and hobbyists. However, it is that same uniqueness that makes good, usable driftwood a little tricky to find. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Driftwood?

driftwood washed up on beach

Driftwood is the leftover parts of branches and trees that make their way to a source of water, such as a river, a lake, or even the ocean. When the wood is submerged in the water, it experiences the eventual loss of bark as a result of the pressure from the elements, creating a gorgeous piece of material. Its unique look has made it a coveted crafting material and has led to all kinds of art and crafts.

It’s a key part of the waterfront ecosystem and provides shelter for birds, shellfish, and plants. While driftwood largely refers to natural wood from trees, you can also get a subset of driftwood made from manmade objects like shipwrecked boats known as drift lumber.

Where to Find Driftwood

Typically, you’ll find driftwood washed up on the shore of a body of water. Whether that’s along a beach or by the riverside or even in swamps. Your best bet is to look for it early in the morning and after storms.

While typically, driftwood refers to wood found in bodies of water, this isn’t always the case. In fact, there are some types of wood that age during the course of several years as they remain on the shore. Meanwhile, some types of driftwood are somewhat man-made due to being found in the desert and then being immersed in water to create the effect of driftwood.

Unfortunately, driftwood has become rare today due to industrial logging. Fewer trees mean less driftwood and now shorelines have a sparse supply of driftwood when compared to the hills of wood they once had.

Where to Buy Driftwood

If you cannot find any driftwood, or if you live far away from the beach, a lake, or a river, then you may decide that you would like to buy driftwood instead. Because of its popularity in craft or woodworking projects, you can often find it in hobby or craft shops.

The important thing to consider is what you plan to do with the driftwood. For raw pieces, you can also use pet stores and online retailers, but if you want a decorative piece then it’s worth checking boutique furniture stores.

Driftwood Craft Ideas

driftwood hanger

With its pale, peeled look and sanded-down texture, driftwood has become a very popular part of the art and crafts scene. Its ability to be carved means that it’s incredibly versatile and can be used for all sorts of crafts from furniture to art sculptures.

Its association with the sea also makes it synergize well with the nautical-themed design. It has also become a popular decorative element in animal enclosures, particularly for reptiles and amphibians.

Check out our list of driftwood craft ideas!

How to Keep Driftwood From Rotting

cracked aged wood

Because natural driftwood is largely untreated, it is susceptible to rotting. If you plan to use the material for crafting or decorative purposes, then it’s something you do need to get under control. Here are some tips to keep driftwood from rotting:

1. Rinse the driftwood

Once the driftwood has been carved into your desired shape, you need to rinse it carefully in cold water. This will help remove any salt, seaweed, and dirt from the wood.

2. Soak the driftwood in bleach for five days

Next, you need to soak the driftwood in a solution of diluted bleach to help petrify the wood and kill any microorganisms that will eat into the wood and cause it to rot.

You should mix a ratio of bleach that is two cups for each gallon of water.

Do this for a period of five days with the actual bleach solution changed on a daily basis.

3. Let the driftwood dry

Then it is important that the driftwood is permitted to fully dry. Prior to using the driftwood for any of your projects and crafts, it is wise to let the driftwood dry for a minimum of one week.

Once the driftwood is fully dry, you can start carving and creating with it!

Summary

Driftwood is a real wonder of the natural world. It can be found along shorelines of all bodies of water and can be made artificially too. Its unique aesthetic and look have made it a darling of the craft world and sees it used in all kinds of woodworking and art projects. While you do need to be careful of rotting when dealing with natural driftwood, the end product is absolutely worth the effort.