I was looking at a couple of these driftwood topics and had an idea. A common household pressure cooker is capable of achieving sterilization. There's no such thing as "almost sterilized". Either something is sterile or it's not. Boiling in regular pan will NEVER achieve sterilization.. no matter how long you boiled something for. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to achieve sterilization in a pressure cooker. I used to do tattoos a few years back, and know that many tattooists use a pressure cooker to sterilize their needles and tubes as an alternative to an expensive autoclave or dry-heat sterilizer (I was one of them).
I'm sure boiling driftwood in a saucepan helps a lot and probably is good enough for wood to be used in an aquarium, but if you have a pressure cooker, you might want to use it instead. I tried it out on a few pieces of river wood that my stepmother had collected for decorating her potted plants, and after an hour or so in the pressure cooker, the water had turned a dark brown. When I resoaked the pieces in a bucket, the water stayed fairly clear and most of the pieces sank. I'm sure that after 2 times in the pressure cooker, wood would be more than safe for a fish tank.
Actually, it would probably be a good idea to pressure cook everything you put in your tank (except the fish ).
You mean, a steamer? Sounds like a great idea, IF your driftwood piece is small enough to put it in a steamer, lol Mine are way too large to do that, although I do have a steamer pot for cooking my veggies and rice
If you buy an aquarium-safe driftwood, you do not need to sterilize it as it is already specially prepared for freshwater aquaria. All you need to do is soak and boil it for a while to remove the tannins that can otherwise lower your pH and stain your water. IF you get driftwood from the outside, then you may want to sterilize it - but I don't know much about that.
No, not a steamer. A pressure cooker has an air-tight lid that secures by screws or a number of other ways. There is almost aways a rubber gasket or o-ring between the pot and the lid. Then there is some kind of pressure-sensitive valve on the top that allows a small amount of steam out when the pressure gets to a certain level. They come in a wide range sizes and prices. Mine is about 2 quarts or so and probably cost no more than $10 or $15, but I know they make them much bigger than that. Mines a cheapy.. just has a weighted cap over a stem on the top that lets out steam when the pressure builds up enough to lift the weight. I have no idea what they are actually meant for, but someone told me their mom used to cook chicken in a pressure cooker. I bought mine for sterilizing.
I also forgot to mention how to actually sterilize with a pressure cooker. It's very easy.. put in whatever you want to sterilize, fill the thing up with water about an inch or so from the top. Secure the lid on and take off or open the pressure valve and start boiling the water. When it starts steaming, let it steam for about 10 minutes, then close or put the pressure valve back on and start your timer. 45 minutes to an hour does the trick.
Like you said, probably not necessary for most items that are bought at a fish store,and probably wouldn't be worth it to buy one just for fish tank stuff unless you plan on collecting a helluva lotta tank decorations from the wild. But if you already have one, it's definitely much better than just boiling. BTW, it doesn't really clean stuff... you still have to do that by hand.. but it gets rid of any micro-organisms and whatnot. For example, sterilizing tattoo equipment will get rid of Hepatitis and Aids, but it won't clean the dried ink off...
They make them pretty big. I've seen 15 quart pressure cookers, and there's probably bigger sizes that that. The question is, can you find one for cheap? A brand new, quality, large pressure cooker would be WAY too much of an investment... I would guess at least a couple hundred bucks. But you really wouldn't need a top-of-the-line model or anything. I got mine at the swap meet. It was new, but it was WAY cheap in comparison to one you'd buy at a store or something... cheap price, cheap quality. But it works. If you really wanted one, your best bet would be a yard sale, swap meet, or maybe eBay. I think the average size is around six quarts...
I know a little about pressure cookers, as an old 'homesteader' from way back, I use one to do everything from cooking dried beans, and tough meat to 'canning' fish. You have an excellent idea here. It is true that it will kill more bacteria and parasites, but what I think is even better about the idea is it should speed the waterlogging effect, making the wood sink faster because it will force saturation. One caution however. MOST pressure cookers in the "cheep" range of price are cast aluminum. The expensive ones are stainless steel. I will not use an aluminum cooker for myself, and would be very cautious of using one with anything that goes into an aquarium, since fish can be very sensitive to metal poisoning.
You can find these stainless steel pressure cookers in high end gourmet cooking stores, and can be ordered in sizes large enough to stack two quart jars, usually 7 qt. on each level. This is big enough for a fairly large size piece of wood, but like sick-lid boy said, it would also be an fairly large investment in $$$ and may not be worth it unless you have other reasons for buying one.
To can fish you pressure it at 10lbs pressure for 90 minutes. Yes I love my aquarium, and would NEVER can my little friends, but the salmon in our creek are fair game!