Staining your project, whether you have refurbished or built something from scratch, is optional. But, finishing it is essential. Without a proper finish, the wood can dry, crack, swell, or just generally deteriorate.
If you want a chemical-free finish on your furniture, you can keep reading for some of the best natural wood finishes.
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Also called flaxseed oil, linseed oil is one of the popular natural wood finishes. It saturates deep into the wood giving it a satin-like finish that will protect it against scratches and changes in humidity.
The oil will tinge the wood with a light yellow color, but the grain will still show through, leaving you with a natural look and a naturally non-toxic finish.
One great advantage of using linseed oil as your wood finish is that it not only makes a protective film on the surface but also penetrates deeply, protecting the wood through and through.
A couple of downsides are that it may require the wood to be oiled again every now and then, and it’s also susceptible to water rings and stains if the liquid is left long enough.
This plant-based oil is made from the seeds of the tung tree and has been used for thousands of years because of many reasons.
Tung Oil is mildly water-resistant, it dries quickly and clear, it’s easy to apply, it dries harder than other natural oils. And best of all, it’s completely non-toxic and even food safe.
One downside is that it does take 5 or more coats to fully saturate the wood for protection and leave a satin shine. If you’re handling a hardwood, you may want to choose to use tung oil instead of something like linseed oil.
It handles dense wood much better, but it’s still ideal for lighter woods too, because it dries clear.
This natural oil is pressed from the nuts of a walnut tree. Walnut Oil is food-safe and won’t go rancid, leaving a fairly durable satin finish. Just be aware that it can cause problems for people who are allergic to tree nuts.
It needs frequent reapplication depending on how much you will be using that furniture. It’s easy to apply but does dry slowly. It will cure faster in a warmer environment at room temperature.
Once Beeswax is warmed and melted, you can wipe the wax directly onto the wood. Then you can buff it to the desired sheen. Because the wax cools quickly, most people like mixing it with natural oil, such as tung oil.
You can even add an antibacterial essential oil too. This addition of oil to the wax will make the finish more water-resistant. And nontoxic! Apart from that, beeswax is one of the best-smelling natural wood finishes.
Obtained from the leaves of a palm tree grown in Brazil, this wax is extremely durable. It is a hard wax and more water-resistant than beeswax, for instance. Carnauba wax will only dull over time instead of flaking or peeling like other waxes might.
The downside of using a wax like this is that without the addition of oils, you need to be strict about reapplying the wax often. Or else, your wax will wear down and leave your wood unprotected.
Although it sounds natural, this oil is actually distilled from petroleum products. It’s entirely inert, clear, odorless, tasteless, and hypoallergenic.
Mineral oil is mildly water-resistant and repels bits of food and other liquids too. It’s fairly simple to apply but will need frequent reapplication.
Pros of using natural oils:
Cons of using natural oils:
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Using natural wood finishes for your DIY projects and buying furniture finished with natural oils will help you create a healthy chemical-free home and indoor air for your family. Whether you buy a natural wood dining table, solid wood bed frame or bedroom furniture, choosing a natural oil or wax finish or a zero-VOC finish to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals is always best.
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My name is Kamila, and I'm passionate about researching non-toxic, organic products for the home. I believe it's so important to create a safe and healthy environment for our families, and I enjoy helping others do the same.