Sanitizing a Large Stump

I’m constructing a terrarium filled w native New Hampshire plants and possibly a turtle or two. I have a tree fall stump that I would like to include for decorative purposes. It is too big to soak in a tub. Far too big to put in the oven. It has been over-wintering in my basement.

Is there anything I can do to address any potential bugs? If I am transplanting native ferns, mosses. &c., wouldn’t that just negate any effort on the log?

What do y’all think?


Cut it into sections, bake and bleach it and then bolt it together again when constructing the enclosure. You can gorilla glue over the bolts afterwards and rub some bark on it to hide them.

You could also look for a local kiln.
You might have a local pottery company that will let you use it for a price/favor.

Orrrr if you are near a mattresses shop, ask them for one of the huge plastic protective bags they are delivered in. You can fill one of them with bleach and water and just let it soak for as long as needed.


This is probably going to be the best option. I might be trying something similar in the future.


Cutting it into sections would be the best way to sterilize it properly. You could also steam it or create massive ph changes (heavily misting with bleach, cleaning well, then heavily misting with vinegar. Just be sure that they don’t mix, I would buy two new spray bottles at the dollar store just for this.). An organism is extremely unlikely to be able to survive being dried out, then steaming, then a high ph, then a low ph. Any small holes that a bug would be buried in would also likely be sterilized, unless the tree grew around the living bug.
If you’re using native plants you could rinse the roots in bleach and then keep the plant in carbon dioxide for a few days. If you want to use carbon dioxide I outlined one way to do this:

This project sounds super cool, I would love to see it once it’s done and a progression thread would be great.


I agree. I have used all of these sanitizing methods with no problems. I prefer the bleach though, just because it is a tiny bit less work. And just as Riley said, no bugs will be able to survive that unless the tree grew around the living bug.


It’s a little hard to tell how large it is from the picture. I don’t suppose it would fit in a bathtub? If you know of any individual or business with a large kiln or industrial oven they’d let you use, that’s another possibility. It’s such a beautiful piece, I kind of hate the idea of cutting it up (even if you ultimately put it back together).

Very cool piece, I hope you’re able to use it!