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My experience with driftwood is limited to one piece that I have in a tank and a few that I have been leaving outside to age. However, none of those pieces have had any of the wood flake off. Only hardwoods are suitable for tanks because softwoods will supposedly, well ruin your water. Now, though you said some pieces seemed soft that doesn't mean that I can promise they are softwoods. It does seem strange to me though that wood would flake, could it perhaps be some bark or dirt coming off?

The library section has a good article on driftwood
http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/driftwood.php

Some pieces never sink an dhave to be weighed down with something. Boiling the driftwood before using it a tank can remove a great deal of the tannins but the piece will continue to leech them out only at a slower rate.

I just thought about something. Since you purchased the driftwood through the internet it likely had to be shipped. Perhaps some of the pieces were fairly brittle and were broken up during shipping thus causing them to flake when put into water. I would still be careful though if they continue to flake and seem soft.
 
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