How To Get Driftwood To Sink

How To Get Driftwood To Sink

Adding driftwood to your aquarium, terrarium, or water feature can bring a touch of natural beauty and a rustic aesthetic. However, one common challenge enthusiasts face is getting the driftwood to sink. Freshly collected driftwood often floats due to trapped air and its inherent buoyancy. To integrate this charming piece of nature seamlessly into your setup, you need to saturate the wood with water, making it heavier and less buoyant. In this guide, we will explore effective methods to achieve this, including boiling and soaking techniques. Whether you’re a seasoned hobbyist or a beginner, these tips will help you successfully prepare your driftwood, ensuring it stays submerged and enhances the look of your aquatic or decorative environment.

Understanding Driftwood Buoyancy

Driftwood’s buoyancy is due to the air trapped within its pores and the natural oils and resins present in the wood. To make it sink, you need to saturate the wood with water, which will increase its weight and make it less buoyant. Here are some effective methods to achieve this:

Method 1: Boiling

Boiling driftwood is one of the quickest and most effective ways to ensure it sinks. This method not only aids in water absorption but also sterilizes the wood, removing any pests or harmful substances that may be present. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to do it:


  1. Choose a Suitable Container:
    • Select a large pot or container that can accommodate the driftwood. It should be large enough to submerge the entire piece of wood or at least a significant portion of it at a time. If the driftwood is too large for any available container, consider using a metal drum or a large outdoor boiling setup.
  2. Boil Water:
    • Fill the pot with enough water to cover the driftwood and bring it to a rolling boil. If your driftwood is particularly large, you might need to do this in batches or boil different sections one at a time.
  3. Boil the Driftwood:
    • Submerge the driftwood in the boiling water. Ensure the wood is fully submerged for even saturation. Depending on the size and density of the wood, you might need to boil it for several hours. For larger pieces, consider boiling for 2-6 hours. Periodically check the driftwood to see if it has absorbed enough water and started to sink.
  4. Cool and Repeat:
    • After the initial boiling, let the driftwood cool down in the water. This helps it to continue absorbing water as it cools. Repeat the boiling process if necessary until the driftwood shows signs of sinking or feels significantly heavier.


  • Ensure the wood is fully submerged. If it’s too large, boil one end at a time.
  • Boiling can change the color of the driftwood, so be prepared for slight alterations in appearance.

Method 2: Soaking

If boiling is not an option due to the size of the driftwood or lack of suitable equipment, soaking the driftwood is another effective method to achieve sinking. Though this process takes longer, it is equally effective and ensures that the wood is thoroughly saturated.


  1. Submerge the Driftwood:
    • Place the driftwood in a large container filled with water. This container can be a plastic bin, bucket, or even your bathtub. Ensure that the container is large enough to accommodate the entire piece of driftwood.
  2. Weigh It Down:
    • Use heavy objects like rocks, bricks, or other weights to keep the driftwood fully submerged. It is crucial that the wood remains under the water surface to allow for even absorption. Ensure that the weights are clean and safe for your intended use, especially if the driftwood is for an aquarium.
  3. Change the Water Regularly:
    • Replace the water every few days to prevent bacterial growth and foul odors. Fresh water helps to flush out tannins and other substances released by the wood, promoting better saturation. Regular water changes also reduce the risk of algae or mold growth.
  4. Wait:
    • The soaking process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the size, type, and density of the wood. Patience is essential, as this method relies on the gradual absorption of water by the driftwood.


  • Patience is key. The longer the wood soaks, the more water it will absorb, making it sink more effectively.
  • Keep the container in a well-ventilated area to avoid mold and unpleasant smells.

Method 3: Anchoring

If you’re looking for a more immediate solution, anchoring the driftwood in place is a viable option.


  1. Drill Holes: Drill a small hole or series of holes in the base of the driftwood.
  2. Insert Weights: Insert stainless steel screws, bolts, or other non-toxic weights into the drilled holes.
  3. Attach to a Base: You can attach the driftwood to a slate or other heavy base using aquarium-safe glue or silicone.


  • Make sure any weights or attachments used are safe for your specific use case, especially if you’re using the driftwood in an aquarium.

Method 4: Combination Method

For particularly stubborn pieces of driftwood, combining the soaking and anchoring methods can be very effective. Start by soaking the driftwood to absorb as much water as possible, then use weights or attach it to a base to ensure it stays submerged.


  • Regularly check on the driftwood during the soaking process. Once it starts to sink on its own, you can reduce or remove the weights.

Maintenance Tips

  • Monitor Water Parameters: If using driftwood sink in an aquarium, monitor the water parameters regularly. Driftwood can release tannins, which may lower the pH and tint the water. This is generally safe for fish, but it’s good to keep an eye on it.
  • Clean the Driftwood: Before introducing it to your aquarium or terrarium, scrub the driftwood with a brush to remove any debris, dirt, or loose bark.


Getting driftwood to sink may require a bit of patience and effort, but the natural beauty it adds to your setup is well worth it. Whether you choose to boil, soak, or anchor your driftwood, each method has its own benefits and can be chosen based on your specific needs and available resources. Happy aquascaping or decorating! Remember, patience and consistency are key. Enjoy the process and the natural beauty that driftwood brings to your aquatic or decorative environment.

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