Aromatic cedar in closets
I’ve used aromatic cedar t & g in closets over the years to make ’em smell nice and keep the bugs away…or so I thought! A closet system salesman recently told me that the aroma of cedar has nothing to do with keeping bugs out. He said they don’t like to eat through the stuff and that’s why chests with cedar on all sides are used, but not to bother using it in closets. So, what’s the REAL story?
"Heartwood of red-cedar (Juniperous virginiana) has been reputed to have the same properties (sic. to be a repellant to insects). However tests conducted at the Savannah, GA, laboratory of the USDA indicated that though red-cedar has SOME inhibiting effect on the hatching of moth eggs laid in the chest, this cannot be relied upon to kill the moths and their larva already present in stored cloths"
Source -- Textbook of Wood Technology (3rd Ed.) by Panshin and deZeeuw; page 404
I hope this clarifies your concerns -- In short, it doesn't work; yet another wood myth that needs to die!
Stanley Niemiec -- Wood Technologist MS Penn St '79
*Ok, so it probably doesn't kill the moths and may not even deter them - but is still sure smells nice...
*Casey:I agree!But how do you explain all those people making money selling the little "hangy" blocks of ERC for the closet. Consumer fraud??I met a guy that saved his ERC shavings for sachet pillows. Maybe for a hamster!!!As a rusty, web-footed moss-back, did you know that the wood of Western Juniper is anatomically the same as Eastern Red-cedar?I'm near Sublimity -- where are you or did I ask b4?
*Thanks for the diffinitive answer. Kinda spoils the fun though!
*Stanley:I don't have that reference book at hand so could you answer a couple questions?-Any data on Western Red Cedar? I know that is a different species.-I've noticed that insects in general seem to die pretty quickly in rooms finished in Western Red Cedar. Is this cause and effect, or is something else working here?
*Tom/Fred/et al/:Tom -- would I be spoiling the fun if I told you the truth about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny too.Fred -- I don't know if the results you are seeing vis a vis insects in rooms with WRC are scientifically reproducable and/or statistically significant. Western Red cedar contains extractives like Thujaplicenes, that in the opinion of a former professional collegue, makes pentachlorophenol seem relatively benign. It is a very toxic organic chemical. Native peoples of the PNW would not drink water from cedar swamps because of the concentrations within the water. For these peoples/cultures WRC was a primary component of their civilization -- canoes, homes (they would split planks out of a living tree so that the tree would continue to live), family trees (totem poles), untold implements, rope from the branches, cloth and sanitary napkins from the inner bark, etc, etc.WRC is about 40% less dense than eastern red (0.32 sp. gr. vs 0.47 sp. gravity), and considerably dimensionally more stable (expansion/contraction). Decay resistance is comparable but WRC is considerably more acidic so that tool wear is very pronounced.
*Also interesting is the fact that neither of these trees is actually a "cedar" (genus Cedrus): Western Red is Thuja Plicata while Eastern is Juniperus Virginiana.
*Thanks for all the interesting information! As far as the Easter bunny goes--have at it. BUT...Santa, let's leave good St. Nicholas out of it this close to the big day!
*Stanley:Thanks. From my empirical evidence as supplemented by your information I think there is definitely an insecticide effect from Western Red Cedar. What I have seen is flying insects like flys and mosquitoes enter a room that is walled with WRC, become disoriented, uncoordinated and ultimately die. This process takes a relatively short period of time. I have seen this process repeated several hundred times over the past few years.But you do raise a question though. The room in question is a dining area. Wonder what that is doing to us humans? We don't have physical contact but we are certainly in the "aromatic zone".
*Fred, be very careful about the dining room and it's effects on your health, that is if your wife is the cook and she reads Breaktime.
*Tom, good advise. Maybe I need to remind her of all the benefits of keeping me and my "sterling personality" around, or at least my retirement income.
*Here's an opinion and one more.
*Thanks for the information. It looks like cedar is worth it for the smell only!