by Terrie Hein
In today's world of DIY everything, we are often asked how to safely achieve the brightly colored blocks that our pampered feather babies LOVE to destroy. I will share one method here. There are plenty around and this is just one of the many.
To begin, start with clean sanded block shapes (make sure you have rinsed off the sanding dust). You choose the size, shape, and wood, just make sure it is a bird-safe wood. It is a good idea to do quite a few of these at one time, as they can be used as refills for chewing toys. Divide these into different lots, these will be your different colors.
Get some good-sized containers as you will need to leave the wood blocks soak to get intense colors. We suggest using gel food coloring; this is human grade food coloring mixed to a ratio of 2 teaspoons food coloring gel to approximately 1 liter (1 quart) of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Soak the blocks for an hour. For more intense color, paint a number of layers with a brush then remove the blocks and move them to dry in the sun. This drying step allows the alcohol to evaporate away leaving the blocks completely safe for our companion birds.
Alternatively, you can replace the isopropyl alcohol with 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil (NEVER EVER BOIL ALCOHOL). As above soak the blocks for an hour (the paint brush layering works here as well) and remove to dry in the sun.
If you find the sun has abandoned you, air dry your blocks for an hour while pre-warming your oven, 160 to 200 degrees F and dry the blocks in the oven. Drying time will vary. Keep a close eye on your blocks in the oven and remove promptly when dry and let them cool.
You can now use them as refills for your bird's chewing toys or make new toys, just be sure you use stainless steel skewers or chains. If you are using rope, please don't use cotton. If you are adding bells make sure they are stainless steel as well.