The effect of sodium lauryl sulphate on blue stain, mould growth and surface properties of SA pine
Producing high quality end products, rather than focusing on volume production, is slowly but surely becoming the main driving force in the wood processing industry of South Africa. Drying defects such as surface checks and discolouration by yellow stain and kiln brown stain are major factors in softwood timber downgrades when selecting furniture grade timber. Previous efforts to control these defects have focused on schedule adaptation, but as the industry is still mainly concerned with volume production, and because of the varying lumber price, longer schedules to control these drying defects have not yet been that attractive for the larger sawmills. In ongoing research in this laboratory, a dip treatment of freshly sawn softwood boards in an aqueous solution containing a surfactant called sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) was used to try to influence the mechanism involved in the development of these stains. Further, complementary research is reported in this study. Firstly, the possibility of using SLS solutions to control surface mould development and bluestain was investigated. Results showed that SLS did control the development of blue stain and mould growth in open-stacked boards for up to three weeks, using concentrations as low as 0.1%, and up to two weeks in closed-stacked timber when using concentrations of 0.2%. Secondly, it was investigated whether SLS treatment would have a detrimental effect on downstream product quality; in particular, kiln dried boards and glued components for furniture manufacturing. Since SLS influenced fluid water flow during kiln drying, the treatment could have exacerbated the occurrence of surface checking due to altered moisture distribution profiles. Results of this investigation showed that the SLS treatment did not result in increased surface checking. Thirdly, as furniture quality timber treated with SLS would be glued, (and also finished with surface coatings), it was further considered important to determine if SLS treatment influenced adhesion properties of wood surfaces. Based on shear test results, it was established that SLS did not influence the adhesion properties of wood when glued with two most commonly used glues in the furniture industry i.e. polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) and urea formaldehyde (UF).