Wood Vinegar (Mokusaku)

There is an old chest of drawers that came with the purchase of folk house Yukuzasama.  I’ve been using it sparingly because, even after wiping it all down multiple times, several of the drawers still smell strongly of chemicals (mothballs).  I’ve set the drawers outside in the sun each time as well.IMG_2514

Today I decided to try a different approach.  One of the byproducts of the charcoal making process is a liquid known as “wood vinegar”  or “mokusaku 木酢” in Japanese.  This dark liquid with a smoky aroma has many great uses, one of them being eliminating/covering smells.  I keep a diluted spray bottle of it in the bathroom for just this purpose.  I thought I’d give it a try at getting rid of the mothball odor in the chest.

This funnel is positioned over the short chimney coming out of the kiln. The mokusaku liquid condenses from the smoke and drips into a container placed below to catch it.

Basically, I diluted the mokusaku 1:1 with water and then removed all of the drawers and carried them outside.  I then proceeded to wipe them with a liberal amount of the liquid.  After propping them up to air dry, I went inside and wiped the inner surfaces of the cabinet as well.


This dark liquid is the mokusaku

When everything was all dry, I put the drawers back in place.  So far, the only smell is a light smoky aroma left by the wood vinegar.  Much better than the chemical.IMG_2513

It might take a few days to make sure the smell doesn’t surface, and if it does it might call for another round.  So far though, it seems to be another good use for the mokusaku.

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