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Wood Treatment Guide

From A Wiki in the Desert

Wood treatment is performed in a Wood Treatment Tank, using small amounts of various chemicals to treat from 1 to 500 Boards at a time. By adjusting the time of treatment (amount) and order of application of these chemicals, the attributes of the boards can be gradually adjusted until they reach a specified goal.

Each wood treatment tank works slightly differently (see #K-Values below), so recipes are usually tank-specific. However, because treatment resources come from the player's inventory (and boards are usually removed from the tank immediately), tanks are often made Public, with tested recipes listed on the wiki.

If you have a recipe already, just put your boards in the tank and apply the chemicals in the order given, for the length of time given. Remember:

  • Only plain boards may be put into the tank.
  • If the boards have no named properties, they can be removed from the tank as plain boards (reset to untreated board attribute values).
  • While any boards you have put into the tank may be altered repeatedly, you cannot alter them again once they have been removed.
  • Volume counts. 10 seconds of treatment costs the same as 1 second (1 deben of resource for every 10 seconds, rounded up); 500 boards cost the same to treat as 1.
  • If it isn't mentioned in the requirements, it doesn't affect you. That is, if you need "Rigid boards", any board type with "Rigid" in the description works. Rigid Glossy, Rigid Blond, Rigid Black, all would work.

Board Attributes and Properties

During the treatment process, boards are measured on 8 scales: Flexibility, Cuttability, Flammability, Water Resistance, Insect Toxicity, Human Toxicity, Darkness and Glossiness.

When the value of an attribute becomes particularly high or low, the board will gain the associated property, as noted below.

Property Very Low
<= 9
9 < X <= 24
Very High
>= 61
Flexibility Rigid Pliable
Cuttability Hard Soft
Flammability Fireproof Volatile
Water resistance Rotproof
Insect Toxicity Termite-prone Termite-resistant
Human Toxicity Nontoxic
Darkness White Blond Black
Glossiness Glossy

Boards may have (and generally will need) more than one property. Thus, one of the goals of wood treatment is to find the appropriate balance among attributes to achieve the desired set of properties.

NOTE: Boards with extra properties will be accepted by the building construction site. In other words, rigid hard blond boards can be used in buildings requiring rigid hard boards.

Treatment Chemicals

Boards in the tank may be treated with any or all of the following resources: Ash, Beeswax, Bonemeal, Charcoal, Lead, Lime, Oil, Petroleum, Potash, Saltpeter, Sulfur or Water.

Every 10 seconds of treatment consumes 1 deben of the resource (rounded up). (For example, 385 seconds of beeswax treatment would require 39 deben of beeswax.)

Each chemical has an 'ideal' set of values for the attributes, and will attract the boards' attributes toward these ideals. In the following table, the numbers represent pixels of the blue bar on the tank screen.

  • A value of 0 means there are no blue pixels left visible on the bar.
  • A value of 72 is the highest possible value, with a fully blue bar.

Ideal Values
Ash Beeswax Bonemeal Charcoal Lead Lime Oil Petroleum Potash Saltpeter Sulfur Water
Flexibility 36 56 48 72 16 8 0 56 40 24 64 16 32
Cuttability 36 56 40 32 0 8 24 32 16 64 72 0 48
Flammability 36 0 40 16 48 24 8 48 72 16 56 64 32
Water Resistance 29 24 72 48 40 32 48 56 64 8 16 40 0
Insect Toxicity 26 40 24 32 32 72 8 16 64 32 56 48 0
Human Toxicity 18 48 40 0 8 64 16 32 56 24 8 72 8
Darkness 36 40 24 0 72 64 0 56 48 8 16 40 32
Glossiness 7 0 72 56 16 32 16 56 48 8 48 24 40

The attraction behaves like a magnet; a strong effect when the attribute is already close, and much weaker when the attribute is far from the ideal. Once the attribute reaches the ideal value for that chemical, further application of that chemical will not move the bar any further.

For example:

  • Untreated boards start with a Human Toxicity value of 15 and Darkness of 33.
  • Water has an ideal Human Toxicity value of 0 and a Darkness value of 29.
  • Applying Water to the boards will move the Darkness bar quickly (since the ideal value of 29 is close to the starting value of 33).
  • At the same time, Water will move the Human Toxicity toward 0, but at a slower starting rate.
  • Once the Darkness hits 29, the Water will no longer move this bar further down.
  • Additional Water will continue to move the Human Toxicity bar, however, (increasingly quickly as it gets closer to 0).


If you are just following a known recipe for a specific tank, you can skip this section.

K-Value is a term that was invented during Tale 1. It refers to the rate of speed at which a given bar will raise/drop for a particular wood treatment tank.

  • Each attribute (Flexibility, Cuttability, etc.) will have a different K Value.
  • Every Wood Treatment Tank has a different set of K Values.

Once you calculate the K Values for your specific tank, you can then use a simulator to predict with about 99%+ accuracy the results of any given recipe.

Calculating K Values

The general idea is that you want to measure the amount of resources (seconds of treatment) required to change one of the bars from a given known starting value to a given known final value.

  • The further apart the two known values are that you are testing, the more accurate the K Value you calculate will be.
  • In other words, if you only test the Glossiness range from 4 to 13 (difference of 9), you will have a much less accurate result than if you test the full range from 0 to 72 (difference of 72).

The formula used to calculate the K Value is:

(End Value - Start Value)2
(2 * ResourceSeconds)

NOTE: To Test K Values you only need 1 board to be loaded into the treatment tank.

An Example

We know that an untreated board starts with a Glossiness of 7 by looking in the table above. If we used beeswax to shift the glossiness higher, it would eventually reach 72, again according to the table. Thus, the Start Value will be 7, and the End Value will be 72.

  1. Put a board in the tank.
  2. Treat with beeswax, keeping track of how many seconds total are needed to fill the Glossiness bar completely (value 72).
  3. Let's assume this takes 460 seconds in this example. This value is the ResourceSeconds.
  4. Calculate the Glossiness K-Value:
    (72 - 7)2/(2*460) = 652/920 = 4225/920 = 4.592391
So the Glossiness K-Value in our example wood treatment tank is: 4.592391

At this point, we can see that the beeswax treatment should have also maxed out the Water Resistance at 72. So to calculate the Water Resistance K-Value, we will need to drop the Water Resistance as low as possible from that high starting point.

The resource Water actually lowers the water resistance, and it will take it all the way to 0. So our Start Value is 72, and our End Value is 0.

  1. Apply lots of water to the board from the previous example until the water resistance bar is completely gone.
  2. Let's say that took 593 seconds of water treatment exactly.
  3. Calculate the Water Resistance K-Value:
    (0 - 72)2/(2*593) = -722/1186 = 5184/1186 = 4.3709949
So the Water Resistance K-Value in our example wood treatment tank is: 4.3709949

Now we can see on the chart that the Insect Toxicity should currently be 0 (no bar visible). We therefore want to raise Insect Toxicity as high as possible to get a good calculation.

Lead is what raises the Insect Toxicity the most (to 72) but it is a fairly valuable resource, so isn't very desirable for testing. We can also see from the chart that Petroleum would raise it to 61 but is also a valuable resource. However, the chart says that Saltpeter will raise the Insect Toxicity to 53 and is a cheap material so we will use that.

Thus, our Start Value is 0, and our End Value is 53. However, since the bar will not be maxed out, we can't use that clue to let us know when we've reached 53. Since it won't go any higher than 53 though, we know that when the bar stops going up we've reached 53.

  1. Apply lots of saltpeter, keeping an eye out for when the bar stops moving.
  2. Lets say for this example this takes us 374 seconds of saltpeter.
  3. Calculate the Insect Toxicity K-Value:
    (0 - 53)2/(2*374) = -562/748 = 3136/748 = 4.1925133
So the Insect Toxicity K-Value in our example wood treatment tank is: 4.1925133

Continue in this fashion until you have determined all 8 K-Values.

Finding Recipes

Once you have your K-Values, you can use a simulator to find a new recipe for a given type of boards. Another option is simply using the Wood Treatment Tank instead of calculating anything - few materials are that expensive, as you get up to 10s of treatment per deben of material and watching the bars move can be fun and helpful to visualize exactly how the process is working.

REMEMBER: The closer the value for some attribute is to what the "ideal" for the treatment chemical is, the more effect it will have.

This section here was labeled To Be Added, but that's pretty much the most important thing - keep in mind that a particular treatment having a very high value for one attribute, for a board recipe that calls for a very low value for that attribute, or vice versa, is not necessarily a bad thing - it's often exactly what you want, when it drives your other value(s) in a direction they need to go more quickly.

A maxxed-out ideal value in a treatment will move a bar already at or near it's minimum for that attribute (an often desired final state) the *least* compared to treatments that have an absolute lower ideal value for that attribute - but a lower ideal value that is nevertheless higher from where you are at present in the treatment for that value. Vice versa is also true: If you want a high final state, and are getting close, consider treatments with a very low value for that attribute when you've got the other attributes dialed in.

This is counter-intuitive, but can be key to cheap and speedy recipes. Worked Example of one approach: Need a Hard Fireproof board? There are many viable approaches. This is one:

Starting from scratch, you can reduce the Flammability and Cuttability with a dose of Bone Meal. Very cheap, moves both bars quickly, but not all the way on either. 40s on my tank was good. The obvious next step would be Lime - favorable, low values for both attributes, near on Cuttability, not too far on Flammability - so try that. Ten seconds should be plenty to see good movement in Flammability and Cuttability. You may be able move one or both of the bars a little farther with more lime, but who wants to spend more lime?

Next up? Well, lead will go in the right direction for Cuttability, but wrong for Flammability - it's low, but close to where the bar is now and in the wrong direction, so it will increase Flammability quickly as it lowers Cuttability. Lead's also annoying to make. Try throwing Petroleum on instead - just enough to reach its Cuttability value. Watch how slowly Flammability increases compared to how quickly Cuttability decreases. You may undo a tick of Flammability at most.

Next will depend on your tank's actual values, but you may be able to get away with solely using cheap, plentiful Charcoal in small increments to get the exact timing right - if not, consider the highly flammable Sulfur. It's not perfect, and it's not as cheap as charcoal, but it will do almost nothing to increase Flammability and a great deal to decrease Cuttability. Exactly what you want. With a combination of the two, you will need no more Lime.

If you have terrible luck with K-Values, a touch of Ash may be called for - again, this has a low value that is near what you have for one attribute you want (Flammability), and a high value that is *not* near what you have for the other attribute you want to keep low (Cuttability). You may even want to skip the lime to begin with, depending on how you value Ash, and possibly try a Petrol-heavier approach with more Ash near the end, given the relative costs of each.

Whether you're working in a simulator you've painstakingly calibrated, or the actual treatment tank because simulators are boring and then you have to ACTUALLY do the treatment anyway afterwards, too, finding an ideal recipe for how you value your ingredients, and the time taken to treat the boards, simply requires experimentation. The first take might be more expensive than it needs to be, but hey, you got there! Optimization can come next.

A second worked example, of a tricky board: Pliable, Soft, Glossy boards for the new Cartouche Puncture of Thought. Please note this is a record of what I did, and *not* an optimal routing!

We start, in fine fashion, with a mistake. I for some reason believe Petrol will be the ideal treatment here. I have it down as thinking it would raise glossy, which it would not appreciably. It would help Flexibility though, but hurt Cuttability. I settled for only 5 seconds of Petrol, which I was relieved about after I realized it was a mistake, but I proceeded with the plan, because of an important lesson about wood treatment:

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to ever take Treated Boards to a state that cannot be recovered to the desired attributes even in an actual Wood Treatment Tank, though some rare serious mistakes may be costlier to fix than throwing the boards out and trying again.

The mistake with the petrol was *not* a rare serious mistake, so the treatment proceeded, paying closer attention this time. Glossy is actually a bit of a pain to raise, there's only one treatment material that *can* take a board all the way to high enough Glossiness to read Glossy, Beeswax, and the others that get a bit closer are awkwardly arranged so there's not always a clear stepping stone pattern of this, then this, then that, when you have to consider even just 1 other value, much less both Flexibility and Cuttability.

Under these constraints, I make the choice of using Beeswax - but not for the Glossiness benefit. That will be nearly nothing with how low Glossiness starts out. Instead, I want to boost both Flexibility and Cuttability just a bit, and Beeswax is perfectly positioned to do so. I choose 20 seconds of treatment, since there's no harm to overshooting - 2 needed values will increase to their cap and stay there, and we might get one tiny change in Glossiness if we overshoot long enough.

The beeswax has done its job nicely. Looking at the treatments now, there's a choice to be made: Try to max Cuttability (or Flexibility) first, or work on Glossiness. As Glossiness is hard to raise, I elect to focus on that first, and figure I will repair any damage I do to Cuttability and Flexibility later - I know I have to use beeswax again, anyway, so if I damage Cutt and Flex below what Beeswax's value is for them, well, no harm done.

I select Sulfur as my next treatment - it's nearest to the current Glossy value, but above it, so will raise Glossiness quickly. The Cuttability value is fine, too: It's at the minimum, and since the bar for Cuttability is about 50%, that means it won't move very much - the treatment's value is too far from the value of the wood currently in the tank. Flexibility is also pretty far from the current value, but close enough I expect to lose a tick or two of cuttability while raising Glossiness. This is a worthwhile trade. After the 20 seconds, I haven't maxxed glossy, so I do 5 seconds more, and this seems fine.

Next treatment: Water. Huh, this will actually help Cuttability, but will hurt Flexability more than the sulfur. It may have been smarter to skip the sulfur and do straight Water, or by going sulfur first, I may have saved some critical Flexibility. Since I know Glossiness has to move a fair deal, I go with 30 seconds of water, and acknowledge I will actually be losing Flexibility down to Water's cap on it - so yes, using sulfur *was* a mistake, no two ways about it. Oh well, we move on! We're now at Water's max Glossiness level, and Cuttability is in pretty good shape, too.

And now we've run out of efficient choices, on this route I have chosen. We can do some messing around with Bonemeal, but lose the Cuttability we just gained, or perhaps little bits of Petroleum, with similar problems. Alternately, we could use Saltpeter - this is flat-out a positive for every value we want to increase, and will move Glossiness and Cuttability fairly quickly, but Flexibility fairly slowly, as the Saltpeter value for cuttability is too high above the boards currently in the tank.

Now is a point where different treaters may have different approaches. There's potential for some creative, efficient back and forth, though probably using more expensive ingredients even if for shorter times, OR you can just "brute force" it by adding a LOT of saltpeter. Since it will only be moving all treatment values we care about in a positive direction, there's no harm to giving it "too much", it's just not as efficient, and it WILL eventually get all of the treatment bars to the maximum value for this treatment. And Saltpeter's final values will give us Pliable and Soft, two of our goal attributes, straight off, while leaving Glossy in a pretty good place to finish up, while being pretty cheap as a treatment material.

So I elect to go the brute force route, and keep adding Saltpeter in 20 second increments until I have reached a *total treatment time* of 110 seconds - or 11 units of saltpeter. And Flexibility and Pliability are now close to maxxed, and reading the desired end attributes, and Glossiness is close. The choice for the next ingredient gets a bit fun. Beeswax is the only ingredient capable of taking a board all the way to Glossy, but the meter is still a fair deal away from full - so it will move slowly - and meanwhile the Cuttability, and especially Flexibility, will decline fairly quickly, which we don't want. So instead, I decide to add 10 seconds of Bonemeal

Bonemeal has desirable stats for Flexibility, and a value of around 50% for Cuttability - since Cuttability is already much higher than that, it will not go down very much from just 10 seconds of bone meal. But Bonemeal has a glossiness rating that is higher, but fairly close to, the current board's Glossiness value - so it will move up Glossiness very quickly indeed.

After the Bonemeal, we're in good shape - Flexibility and Cuttability are both absolutely maxxed out. Now we can add Beeswax directly for the last bit of Glossiness, confident that we won't lose too much of either Flexibility or Cuttability in the process despite the treatment values being fairly close to the current values. On my tank, 15 seconds of beeswax was enough to leave me with a final board of: Pliable, Soft, Nontoxic, Blonde, Glossy. Yours will likely vary a bit!

Hopefully this was somewhat more enlightening than the words "To Be Added", but older guides are probably equally as good if not better. This IS written for T9, at least, so it acknowledges the existence of Bonemeal, and now has two worked examples, the second one including the exact mistakes I made the very first time I ever tried to make this board, as well as my justifications for every step - even the mistaken ones! I know wood treatment can seem like a daunting puzzle sometimes, but hopefully this can help de-mystify it at least in part. Also since I keep using "I" here I guess I should sign this. - Somebob, T10


Larame has recreated and updated for T8 the Wood Treatment Simulator as a Google Sheets Doc,
which can be accessed here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1QrI4b_EZ7rr3SX9Gg8iBeIaTaenprCRpCF6wZUTPgXg
To use the sheet, and to make changes, you will need to make a copy.