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Information on this subject area was requested by DCFRN participants in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Vanuatu, and Western Samoa.

Presenter: George Atkins

Interviewee: Jaime (Jimmy) M. Nones, Nueva Ecija Province, Philippines

Special note

Before using the information in this item, please read the notes at the end concerning related DCFRN items.


Suggested introduction

We at this radio station are part of a worldwide information network that gathers farming information from developing countries all over the world. It’s the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency, Massey Ferguson, and the University of Guelph.

Through this Network, we bring you information on ways to increase food supplies for your family, or to sell—ways that other farmers have used successfully.

From time to time on this program, we talk about good uses for waste products that people usually throw away. For more on this subject, here’s George Atkins.

Today let’s think of making use of two things that not many people use for any good purpose.

The first one is old motor oil that can’t be used in engines any more, so it’s usually thrown away. The second is the wood from old coconut trees. It’s not used much for fence posts or for buildings because it usually rots so quickly. But if you use these things—old motor oil and wood from old coconut trees together—you can have no-cost or at least very low-cost wood to use for posts or for temporary buildings that will last for a while.

To begin with, let’s talk about the coconut wood. I’m sure you know that when wood in the upper part of the coconut tree totally dries out, it’s quite porous so it’s not the strongest wood there is. The wood in the lower half is quite a bit stronger however.

Well if you’d like to use that wood for fence posts, building posts, beams, even for boards, there are ways of treating it that will make it last quite well for up to three years or more.

Jimmy Nones, who comes from a farm in Nueva Ecija Province in Philippines, says you could buy tar or pitch to protect that wood. But, he says, that would cost you money. If you could get old motor oil for little or no money, you could use that. Here’s more of what Jimmy told me:

The purpose is to permeate (soak) the motor oil throughout the timber, posts, and beams so that termites don’t get in.

Would you treat it before or after the building is built?

I would treat it before.

Should you be treating the coconut wood when it is still wet or should it be dried before you treat it with this motor oil?

It should be sufficiently dry to allow the oil to seep in.

Which is to say that the water has been generally displaced in the wood itself. I would say that you should saw the wood, then allow it to sun-dry for a week or two weeks—depending on the weather. If you live in a humid country, then more time should be allowed for it to sun-dry.

If you don’t dry it directly under the sun, it will take quite a number of months to dry out.

All right, now just exactly how would you go about treating it? You’d have the motor oil, perhaps from some garage or somewhere where people keep trucks or automobiles. You would take it home in a bucket. What would you do then?

Well, first I’d allow the motor oil to sit for a little while and allow the solid particles in it to settle down. Then take the top which is mostly motor oil. Then paint it on the wood until no pores are showing.

All right, now when you’re painting it on the wood, of course you might use a paint brush that you could buy in a store. But if you didn’t have a paint brush, what would you use?

Well if I was out in a field and I saw some banana trees, I would cut some of the leaves and make a brush myself—or else I could use coconut leaves.

Exactly how would you make a brush like that?

Well I would strip the leaves away from the main spine, bunch them together, say in about 5-inch (10-15 centimetre) strips and tie them up onto a stick.

And how long would the bristles be of this homemade brush?

The bristles would be an inch or two (3 to 5 centimetres), depending on how thick the brush is made. If I had a lot of this motor oil, I would prop up the beam itself, then pour it on.

Or perhaps you could put the end of the beam into another bucket and then just keep re-using it, pouring it on. Could it be done that way?


Now, say you treated a post that you’ve made from a tree with the oil; and say you’re going to dig a hole in the ground, set the post in like a fence post that could be for the corner of a building or storage or something like that, would the oil protect the part that’s in the ground from rotting more than it would be if it were not oiled like this?

Yes. It would be protected—if you allow the oil to soak into the pores of the wood, then it is protected. Termites don’t eat into it and generally the oil itself acts as a waterproofing compound for the wood.

There’s another question I’d like to ask you. Have you any experience with using old motor oil for treating wood other than coconut wood?

Yes. We had the problem of termites in some of the posts under our house. What we did was to paint the motor oil on existing wood posts and we tried pouring onto the ground, right next to the posts, an amount of motor oil too. So that created a sort of sanitized lot of soil right next to the wood so that the termites can’t get into the wood through that soil. Also, we paint the motor oil on the part that’s above the ground to a height of about 3 feet (1 metre) above the ground. This also sanitizes that part of the wood. It’s good, not only to keep out termites but certain kinds of ants as well.

Well thank you very much Jimmy Nones, here in Nueva Ecija Province in the Philippines.

Serving Agriculture, the Basic Industry, this is George Atkins.




1. A major message in this item is that wood can be protected from insects such as wood-eating termites and some kinds of ants by using low-cost or no-cost used motor oil. There are other DCFRN items dealing with low-cost or no-cost methods of protection from damage done by insects that you might wish to re-use in association with this item. Information in some or all of them could well be used in a several-part series on low-cost/no-cost insect control. They are:

Some Farmers Control Insects Without Cost – DCFRN Package 1, Item 1

A Simple, but Effective Fly Trap – DCFRN Package 1, Item 8

Chickens Reduce Insects in Fruit – DCFRN Package 4, Item 9

Insects Die in Airtight Grain Storage – DCFRN Package 6, Item 8

Simple Solution to a Big Pest Problem – DCFRN Package 7, Item 9B

Knowing Insect Life Cycles Helps You Control Pests – DCFRN Package 10, Item 8

Preventing Insect Pest Damage to Crops – DCFRN Package 10, Item 9

A Light Trap for Insect Pests – DCFRN Package 11, Item 4

Raising Ducks in the Paddy Field – DCFRN Package 11, Item 5

Aphid Control at Little Cost, Part 1 – A Homemade Insecticide for Aphids – DCFRN Package 11, Item 6

Aphid Control at Little Cost, Part 2 – Applying your Homemade Insecticide – DCFRN Package 11, Item 7

2. Another aspect of this item is that it deals with a good use for waste materials that are often discarded and not used. There are other DCFRN items describing ways in which waste
materials can be put to good use. Information from some or all of them could well be used in a several-part series on good uses for waste materials. They are:

New Uses for Old Tires and Inner Tubes – DCFRN Package 4, Item 6

Converting Animal Draft Power to Mechanical Power – DCFRN Package 5, Item 9

A Small Homemade Hand Shovel – DCFRN Package 5, Item 9

Dried Coffee Pulp, Good Cattle Feed that Would Cost You Nothing – DCFRN Package 5, Item 9

Feeding Fish in Your Fish Pond – DCFRN Package 6, Item 1D

Fertilizer from Paddy Straw – DCFRN Package 6, Item 5

Watering Seedlings and Applying NO-COST Fertilizer – DCFRN Package 6, Item 6

Getting Rid of Mange or Scabies on Pigs – DCFRN Package 11, Item 10

No More Flat Tyres on Your Wagon or Cart – DCFRN Package 12, Item 4

Water Hyacinth, Good Low-Cost Animal Feed – DCFRN Package 13, Item 6

Good Low-Cost Fuel Made from Maize (Corn) Cobs, Part 1 – Preparation for Making It – DCFRN Package 13, Item 11

Good Low-Cost Fuel Made from Maize (Corn) Cobs, Part 2 – How to Make It – DCFRN Package 13, Item 12

A Glass Fish Trap – DCFRN Package 13, Item 13