Driftwood may look like pieces of dead and rotten wood and may not look like they have much value. However, it is surprising that there is a thriving market for driftwood from collectors and users alike. This leads you to question if there is a way to make money out of driftwood. Specifically, can you collect and sell driftwood?
You can collect and sell driftwood. Driftwood tends to be appreciated by some furniture makers, fishkeepers, and artists. The best driftwood may be subjective. However, people prefer raw driftwood or treated driftwood. The best place to sell driftwood may be online or directly to furniture makers or artists.
This article discusses how you can collect and sell driftwood. We also explore what makes driftwood valuable and what you can do to increase the value of your driftwood before you sell it. Lastly, we discuss how and where you can sell driftwood.
What Makes Driftwood Valuable?
Driftwood may be valuable because of its aesthetic value. It can be used to decorate aquariums, turn them into art projects, or make furniture. As such, there is a market of collectors, artists, gardeners, fishkeepers, and furniture makers looking for driftwood.
Driftwood may look like they are not much since they just lie where they are and slowly rot away. However, surprisingly there is value in these woods. They are specifically looked for by collectors, fishkeepers, artists, and furniture makers.
Collectors: Collectors look at driftwood specifically for its aesthetic beauty, much like how collectors love Bonsai trees. They appreciate the driftwood for the way it breaks down, the curves and holes it forms, and many more.
As such, if you find yourself with a piece of driftwood that has the aesthetic features these collectors are looking for, you may be able to sell it at a good price to them.
Fishkeepers: Fishkeepers tend to enjoy placing pieces of driftwood into their aquarium. It enhances the natural feel of the aquarium. Driftwood also provides the fish space to hide and swim in the tank.
Which means they are on the lookout for driftwood pieces. They tend to like driftwood pieces that have been treated and can sink into their aquarium. You will likely get a good price if you can provide such driftwood.
Artists: Artists tend to take pieces of driftwood and turn them into objects or art. It could be a simple home decoration, down to a large piece of art that decorates buildings, and so on.
If you are to supply driftwood to artists, they may prefer larger pieces. The wood may also be best raw or lightly treated, as artists tend to be more specific about how they want their wood to be finished.
Furniture Makers: Some furniture makers love to work with driftwood, using its unique shapes and structure to create artistic furniture. Common practice includes using driftwood to form a platform and then placing a piece of mirror on top to make a coffee table.
Gardeners: Gardeners tend to like using driftwood to add aesthetic value to their garden, as well as to support plant growth. Gardeners may place pieces of driftwood on a bed of rocks or sand or place a piece of driftwood on the ground to protect and encourage flower growth.
Can You Collect And Sell Driftwood?
You can collect and sell driftwood. The key is to first identify your potential buyers and what you can do to offer a better product to them. You may be required to treat your driftwood or prepare the wood as your customers require.
Since there is a driftwood market, you can supply it and generate some money. The best thing about driftwood is you can collect it straight from the beach, riverbanks, etc.
However, be aware that there may be some regulations depending on the State and the ownership of the beach itself. So make sure you check before proceeding to avoid any unwanted potential fines.
One good piece of advice is that you need to learn about the driftwood market. You may need a clear idea of who you are selling your driftwood to. Then, you will need to consider what they are looking for in their driftwood and prepare it the way they want.
For example, fishkeepers may like smaller pieces of driftwood with heavy treatment and disinfection. They also like driftwood that has been pre-sunk, meaning it sinks into the water instead of floating.
If you want to sell to fishkeepers, you must treat, disinfect, and soak the wood until it sinks before you can sell it to them.
With other driftwood buyers, you may need to talk to them directly to learn about their specific needs. Then you can prepare your driftwood accordingly, ease their problems, and make money in the process.
Is It Legal To Just Pick Up Driftwood?
It may not be legal to pick up driftwood from beaches, rivers, and many places. This is because there may be rules regulating how you collect driftwood. When in doubt, check with the local authorities on whether you are allowed to collect driftwood.
When you are collecting driftwood, you may need to first consider if it is legal to do so. This is because you are removing a piece of the environment from its place. If everyone does the same, the area will soon have no more driftwood.
Generally, many places allow you to take up or collect driftwood, but only for personal collection. This is because people generally do not need a lot of driftwood for personal use.
However, if you are collecting driftwood for commercial purposes, such as selling, you will likely require some approval.
If you are at a private property, check with the property owner if it is ok for you to collect driftwood. Depending on the owner, you may or may not be allowed. Some owners may see driftwood as an eyesore and would be happy to let you carry away all the driftwood you can manage.
When it is public property, such as a state or federal park or beach, you may need to check with the park authorities to see if it is allowed. The key is always checking when in doubt to ensure you are not violating any law.
Where Can You Find Driftwood?
You can find driftwood in many places, such as beaches, riverbanks, lakes, and woods. The key is to identify the suitable kind of driftwood that has not deteriorated to the point that they longer have any value.
READ MORE: Best Places To Find Driftwood
To find driftwood, you can venture to many places to look for them. The interesting bit of driftwood is that they tend to gather and pile up in one place, usually due to being carried by the river or the sea current.
Some beaches, such as Boneyard Beach, Florida, are popular for driftwood collectors. There are some other popular beaches that you can go to to look for driftwood.
On top of that, driftwood also may pile up on rivers and lakes. Driftwood may naturally fall from trees and simply deteriorate on-site without being exposed to water.
When looking for driftwood, it may be prudent to know and see if your driftwood has decayed way too much. This is because over-decayed wood is no longer treatable or worth value to any of your buyers. Driftwood exposed to stagnant water for a long time is also a bad idea.
Where Can You Sell Driftwood?
You may be able to sell driftwood in many ways. You can go around and look for driftwood collectors, furniture makers, or artisans and see if they need help to source driftwood. You can also sell driftwood directly online, in places such as Amazon or Etsy.
Suppose you have collected some driftwood by the beach and have treated and prepped it for sale. Where can you sell them? You can sell your driftwood pieces in many ways, such as directly or online.
Directly: If you intend to sell directly, you can drive around, or Google search your locality and see if there are any driftwood furniture makers, artists, or collectors near you. There may be more of them in beach communities and towns.
You can then go up and see if you can help them with bringing in some driftwood to their place. Depending on their needs, you may be requested to bring raw driftwood or fully treated pieces.
Online: This may be the preferred way for many to sell their driftwood because it may be easier. You can sell to customers nationwide and easily scout the market and see the prices and how they package their products.
In many cases, people tend to go online to places such as Amazon or Etsy to look for driftwood pieces. There may be some demand for less structured sites such as Facebook markets or Craigslist. If you intend to sell online, consider setting up an online presence on these websites.
How Do You Treat Driftwood?
You treat driftwood by first cleaning it. Then you disinfect the wood by boiling it in hot water and soaking it in a bleach solution for a few days. You finally dry the wood and, depending on the need, finish it by applying oils or coatings of paint.
READ MORE: How To Treat And Preserve Driftwood
Suppose you have found some driftwood and want to treat and prepare the wood. You can do so by first cleaning it.
This is usually done by removing the excess branches and dead bark. You also use some compressed air to blow away any remaining dirt on the driftwood. You may consider sawing away parts of the driftwood you do not need depending on your need.
You then boil the wood in hot water for a period of time to kill off any mold, fungi, or microorganisms in the driftwood. This is usually requested by many buyers, as these fungi or mold may grow later and make the wood deteriorate faster.
You may also soak the wood pieces in a bleach solution to further clean the wood before sun or oven drying it to remove any moisture from the wood.
At this point, you may consider your wood treated. However, depending on your customers’ needs, you may need to refinish the wood with oils or a paint or epoxy coating.
Or, in some cases, as Joe Treat stated to me:
“I don’t clean or put finish on any of them as the salt and sand do that for me. If I add a carved basswood beak I will wax that piece. My pieces just look better with weather as the sun bleaches them it looks more like animal skin.”