Wood conservation with the ethanol-ether-resin method

Swiss National Museum, Collectioncentre

© Swiss National Museum

The ethanol-ether-resin method is one of the three methods applied in the field of waterlogged wood and organic materials at the Swiss National Museum.

It is especially suitable for the conservation of wood in combination with metals, antler, stone or other materials.

The method has been first applied in 1952 and has undergone some changes and optimisations to this day.

Today the method is applied as follows:

At first the water contained in the wooden cells is replaced with ethanol. In the next step ethanol is then replaced by diethylether. The next step consists in introducing an rather soluble resin in the wooden cells.

At last the objects are dried under vacuum.

The treatment duration varies according to the size and degree of degradation of the wood. It usually takes 10 to 14 months

Due to the explosivity of the solvents used, the treatment can only be performed in an especially equipped laboratory.

The costs for the solvents are comparatively high, yet the results and the general long termstability of the conserved objects are good. The ethanol ether-resin-method therefore continues to be applied, especially for smaller objects and wood in combination with iron or other metals.