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mothball smell in cedar chest

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Forum topic by RickB posted 1036 days ago 3094 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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RickB

48 posts in 1767 days


1036 days ago

So, my wife acquired an old cedar chest used by a now-deceased family member. The thing was made by Sears a long time ago and had seen better days. My wife wants to refinish it and use it. My wife is doing the Lion’s share of the work and I am supervising.

One problem with the chest though is that there is a persistent mothball smell on the inside. The cedar lining has absorbed the smell. I’d like to get the smell out.

Any thoughts as to how I would get the smell out?

RickB


10 replies so far

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6923 posts in 1540 days


#1 posted 1036 days ago

The only thing I would suggest is to sand the interior with some 200grit. Wear a dust mask. No guarantees but worth a shot…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View ajosephg's profile

ajosephg

1850 posts in 2187 days


#2 posted 1036 days ago

Maybe set it outside with the lid open exposing the inside to the sun?

-- Joe

View crank49's profile

crank49

3370 posts in 1597 days


#3 posted 1036 days ago

Ozone treatment gets the smell out of smoke damaged belongings after a fire. Same process might work for the chest.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

1653 posts in 1548 days


#4 posted 1036 days ago

A friend of mine had the same issue. (Who would put mothballs in a cedar trunk?) I gave him about 1/2 bushel of cedar chips from my planer that he put into the trunk for a few months. I am not sure how it worked though. I need to ask him. Just anogther attempt to correct this.

-- In God We Trust

View TJ65's profile

TJ65

1354 posts in 1676 days


#5 posted 1036 days ago

try the sun if you can then if it is still there try sitting a large dish of Bi caronate of soda in there with the lid shut. It should gather up the smell pretty well after awhile. The other thing wold be to replace the smell with another – like lavender or camphor. That way you can keep it in there all the time. But I would try the Bicarb first.
good luck

-- Theresa, https://sites.google.com/site/tmj65treasure/

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1047 days


#6 posted 1036 days ago

I think Theresa is on the right track with the baking soda. Something to absorb the odor.

Not sure I’d subject this to direct sunlight because the heating cycles will cause movement in the wood.

Sanding likely won’t help as the odor is likely penetrated deeper than just the surface.

Rice is often used to dry things as it absorbs moisture—this might have a similar effect as sunlight without the heating cycles. You could layer uncooked dry rice on the bottom for a day. Turn the chest, layer the next surface. Patience would be key.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1595 days


#7 posted 1034 days ago

Eliminating odours is a breeze with Febreeze.

If nothing else works you could just leave it open for a few weeks and put scented lining paper in.

View mrg's profile

mrg

520 posts in 1626 days


#8 posted 1034 days ago

If sanding doesn’t work you could seal it and reline the inside with new cedar. You can get a closet kit at a big box store.

-- mrg

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14721 posts in 2302 days


#9 posted 1034 days ago

It will go way if you leave it open, but it will take a loooooooong time.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Schoey's profile

Schoey

23 posts in 2101 days


#10 posted 1034 days ago

After doing a little research a while back I found out that cedar does little to ward off moths. Myth busted!
Ironically neither do mothballs. In “highly” concentrated amounts the chemicals in mothballs will kill moths.
Be careful if you sand as the chemicals in the mothballs are known carcinogens. I’d remove the cedar if it’s a lining.

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