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How to Remove Sap From a Log Home

Mason Howard

When cut, trees bleed sap. Although logs used in log-home building are dried and treated, sap bleeding occasionally still occurs after the first year or two after building. Heat from fireplaces, vents and the sun can soften internal sap and induce bleeding. Sap bleeding is most common at log ends.

Sap sometimes still lingers in logs prepared for home building.

Sap bleeding will eventually subside, but in the meantime, steps can be taken to eliminate the accumulation of sticky, unsightly messes and stains.

  1. Point space heaters and any other available heat sources towards the bleeding log for several hours to heat up the wood and to force out as much sap as possible. If possible, place the heaters indoors rather than outdoors, to prevent heat from escaping. If the wall is covered with paneling or drywall, place the heaters outside and choose a warm day to work. Set the heaters on stools or ladders, if necessary to reach higher logs.

  2. Heat the area where the sap is exiting the log with a heat gun to further soften and to force the sap from the wood. Scrape-up the extruded sap with a putty knife, picking it up and wiping it off on an old rag or newspaper.

  3. Leave the log overnight and inspect the area for further sap bleeding. If more sap is evident, repeat the heating and scraping process. Up to four or five treatments may be necessary.

  4. Saturate the residual, final remnants of sap with rubbing or denatured alcohol. Alcohol will break up the sap for easy removal. Leave the alcohol to saturate the sap for several minutes then scrub the area with a scrub pad.

  5. Dab oil soap onto the treated area and massage with a rag to polish the wood. Oil soap will also help to pick up any last bits of sap. Commercial adhesive and stain removal products that help in sap cleaning include Goo Gone or Goof Off, which are also oil-based. Goo Gone is available online from the Magic American company and Goof Off is available online from the W.M. Barr Company. Hardware stores, such as Home Depot, Ace, Lowe's, and Menard's also carry these products. Saturate the sap with Goo Gone or Goof Off, allow it to soak for up to five minutes then blot up the area with a clean rag. Repeat, if necessary.

  6. Wash the residue from oil soap, Goo Gone or Goof Off by wiping the area with a sponge dampened with a solution of warm water and dish soap. Dry the area with a dry, clean rag.


Sand-down the area if an ugly stain or other unsightly marks remain after removing the sap, using 180-220-grit sandpaper. Wipe away the sanding dust and touch up the area with a matching stain and finish. For log ends, special log end sealers are available.