Make wood stain? Is it just spilling coffee or tea on a wood table?
Actually … no! There’s way more amazing stuff to it!
Made from all natural household materials, these quick and easy DIY wood stains are super effective, long lasting, and very low cost! And they are better for our planet as well – no solvents and no VOCs !
Since I wrote the original post a couple of years ago, lots of readers have share their experiences and new recipes. This completely updated version will include the following 4 parts:
1 . Why these wood stains work, and what is the science behind these durable wood stains.
2 . 7 easy recipes to make your own natural wood stains in any color.
3 . Pros and cons of DIY wood stains vs store bought wood stains
4 . Helpful tips and our reader’s FAQs
The first 4 basic recipes are various mixtures of vinegar and metal. Why?
Let’s start with a little 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.
As you can see, it is a chemical reaction, which is durable indoors and outdoors, vs when you hear “coffee stain”, “tea stain” or “beet juice stain” on wood, those are in fact natural dyes that would fade away quickly in sunlight.
Now our four basic recipes. I started with 4 jars to test various types of vinegar and metal: ( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
Recipe 1. 1 1/2 cup of white vinegar and one steel wool pad
Recipe 2. 1 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar and one steel wool pad
Recipe 3. 1 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and one steel wool pad
Recipe 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 super fine steel wool pad (or rusty nails as in the 4th recipe ) in the jar and pour in enough vinegar to cover it, loosely put the lid on the jar to allow for air exchange when the reaction is happening- see photo below. 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 have 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. Continue To Next Page…