Make wood stain? Is it just spilling coffee on a table?
Actually … no! There’s way more good stuff to it!
Made from all natural household materials, these quick and easy wood stains are super effective, long lasting, and low cost (less than 10% of those in the store)! And they are better for our planet as well – no solvents and no VOCs !
Related Article: How to transfer images to wood easily with wax paper and water.
( UPDATE: Our reader Mimi left a great comment. You might go through the same “nothing happened!” moment, here’s what she said: “i tried rusty nails and steel wool. I waited several days because it didn’t look like anything wsa happening.
today was the big day. I brushed some on a piece of wood, and it was CLEAR! i was so disappointed.
I walked away and got the other jar, and when i got back, the spot was almost black. OOPS, it worked!” )
We will first look at the 7 different ways to make wood stain, which will give you infinite variations. Then we will look at pros and cons of home-made wood stains, and some good tips at the end!
The first 4 basic recipes are various mixtures of vinegar and metal.
Here’s a bit of science behind these effective wood stains: the iron dissolves in the vinegar (acetic acid) and forms a soluble substance (iron acetate). When this solution is applied to wood, the iron acetate reacts with the natural tannins in the wood, producing various shades of brown, grey and black.
I started with 4 jars ( 3 in photo, don’t ask me why! ) to test various types of vinegar and metal:
#1. 1 1/2 cup of white vinegar and one steel wool pad
#2. 1 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar and one steel wool pad
#3. 1 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and one steel wool pad
#4. 1 1/2 cup of white vinegar and rusty nails
You must be thinking: “Oh balsamic vinegar will be the darkest stain, due to its color! ”
Want to bet $1000? =)
To make the stains, put a pad of super fine steel wool (or rusty nails as in the 4th recipe ) in the jar and pour in enough vinegar to cover it, loosely screw the lid on the jar. If the pad is not totally submersed, rust will quickly form on the portion exposed to air which is ok.
After about twenty-four hours pour the solution into another jar, or take the pads out of the jars to stop the reaction.
All the steel wool pads shrunk to about 1/2 the size! Leaving them in the jar longer will produce a darker stain. The variations are endless!
Now watch the magic! When I first brushed some of this wood stain onto a piece of wood, I thought nothing was happening! But a few minutes later, it looks all different, wow!
As you can see in the picture below, the stain colors has nothing to do with the vinegar color! Balsamic vinegar and steel wood solution is in the middle, but the white vinegar and steel wood solution on the left has the deepest color. The photo was take 5 minutes after the stain was applied.
Before we look at all the colors in comparison, let’s look at two more variations on these 4 basic wood stains.
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