Buff willow is a smooth toffee/pine coloured rod with no bark. All buff willow needs to be soaked as follows in cold water:
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 a makeshift outdoor pond/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 is also acceptable) so that the inner parts of the rod become fully pliable. Whilst working with the willow please 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 it damp for too long (especially in warm weather) will result in the willow going greasy and mouldy, also the rods will 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 and if the rod starts to go black spotted it is no longer usable as it is starting to deteriorate. Over soaking - if the rods start to split whilst you are working with them then they could possibly have been over soaked or not mellowed long enough. Stand them up to drain and when touch dry put them back under the damp blanket to mellow for a few hours.