Soaking times for buff willow

Buff willow is a smooth toffee/pine coloured rod with no bark. All buff willow needs to be soaked in cold water.


Soaking Time


½-1 hr


1-1½ hrs


1½-2 hrs


2 hrs


2-2½ hrs


3 hrs


3½ hrs

If you are in a hurry you could try soaking in hot water to shorten the soaking time. You could soak the willow in a soaking bag, in the bath or in an outdoor pond or pool. You will have to weigh down the willow to keep it submerged.

Once soaked, drain the willow and mellow overnight in a damp blanket, (plastic sheeting, hessian or an old blanket/sheet also works) so that the inner parts of the rod become fully pliable. Whilst working with the willow, do keep it covered so that it does not dry out. If you have any left over after your project, you could continue to use it by keeping it covered for one or two days. After that it must be dried out thoroughly (dried quickly in sun and wind) for storage.

Keeping buff willow damp for too long (especially in warm weather) results in the willow going greasy and mouldy. The rods may also squash if used. Once thoroughly dried, the willow can be re-soaked and used once more. Repeated re-soaking causes the rod to lose its colour. If the rod starts to get black spots, it is no longer usable as it is starting to deteriorate.

If the rods start to split whilst you are working with them this could be down to oversoaking or the rods not being given enough time to mellowe. Stand them up to drain and when touch dry put them back under the damp blanket to mellow for a few hours.

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