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Build > Make Chemical-Free Wood Stain (With Kitchen Ingredients)

by Eileen 61 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links to products we personally use and love.

I was picking apples at the grocery store when my toddler asked, “Mommy, are those organic?” I laughed, thinking how he repeats absolutely everything he hears.

My husband and I have really made the push toward more natural and organic living, and it started in our kitchen.

While purging the pantry the other day, I was ready to toss some instant coffee. Before it hit the trash can, I wondered if I could use this to stain wood.

I’ve heard of staining wood with tea and steel wool, but I was interested to see if I could make a chemical-free stain.

Long story short, you can make a chemical-free, natural stain using just a few items from your pantry. Not only does this homemade stain save you money but it spares you from working with harsh chemicals.

Making Homemade Wood Stain that’s Chemical-Free

If you are looking to save a few bucks or to avoid the smells that come from store-bought wood stain, follow these simple instructions to make your own DIY wood stain. It’s simple and easy – and you get great results!

DIY Wood Stain Materials

I experimented with a bunch of mixtures to see what kind of colors they produced, and I encourage you to do the same. Write down the mixtures you make, so you see what you like and can easily replicate it. Below I’ll be sharing the mixtures I created. However, color could vary based on the brand and type of ingredients.

  • Scrap wood – I used a piece of pine leftover from another project
  • Coffee – I used two types – just a regular instant coffee and a special caramel latte.
  • Cocoa powder – I used Hershey’s Special Dark (because that’s what I had on hand)
  • Tea – I used just a regular black tea
  • Hot Water
  • Mason jars or bowls for your mixtures
  • Paint brush, foam brush, or rag for applying your stain

Pictured below is my setup, with the 1 last update 2020/07/04 all of the mentioned ingredients.Pictured below is my setup, with all of the mentioned ingredients.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for

Making Wood Stain from Coffee and Chocolate

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for I gathered all of my materials ahead of time. With two little ones, DIY time is hard to find. So, I had all of my ingredients ready to go and jumped right into the project while my toddler was finishing up his dinner. I use every minute of the day ๐Ÿ™‚

First, I put on a pot of tea, so I had piping hot water to use to mix the wood stain. I decided to make three mixtures. So, I filled three masons jars up a little more than halfway with the hot water.

In the first mason jar, I dropped four tea bags in.

In the second mason jar, I put two heaping spoonfuls of regular instant coffee and one heaping spoonful of cocoa powder.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for And, in the third mason jar, I put two heaping spoonfuls of specialty coffee (caramel latte) and one heaping spoonful of cocoa powder.

I mixed each of them up and let them sit for 5-10 minutes.

As I was waiting for the mixtures to gain strength, I thought about how awesome it was that I could stain the wood on my kitchen table AND with my kids around! No awful fumes and no exposure to chemicals – such a win!

Not to mention, the coffees and chocolate smelled lovely – and when my little guy was done with his dinner, he helped me “paint.”

After that, I simply used the foam brush to apply the stain to the piece of pine scrap wood. The first coat was really light. You can use a hair dryer to speed up dry time, or just wait and keep the 1 last update 2020/07/04 reapplying.After that, I simply used the foam brush to apply the stain to the piece of pine scrap wood. The first coat was really light. You can use a hair dryer to speed up dry time, or just wait and keep reapplying.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for I did three or four coats of each. Just don’t let your mixtures sit out for days – because they might grow some strange stuff inside.

Pictured below is an image I snapped after the first coat.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for After a couple more coats, I was starting to see some nice colors come through.

Below is picture I snapped while the wood was still drying.

DIY Wood Stain Results

I left the piece to dry overnight and was surprised to see how the wood dried. The DIY stain looked awesome!

As far as each of the three mixtures, I found that the tea barely changed the wood color.

However, the tea would make for a GREAT homemade pre-stain, rather buying store-bought pre-stain filled with chemicals.

The wood absorbed the tea really nicely and for 1 last update 2020/07/04 worked just like a pre-stain would.The wood absorbed the tea really nicely and worked just like a pre-stain would.

The two coffee mixtures were really close in color when they dried, yet I was pleased with both of them.

If you are aiming to make a darker stain, you can experiment with adding more chocolate and coffee. Just remember to write down what you did, so that you can do it again.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Seal it!

If you’re making this wood stain for a project, definitely seal it afterward. You can make a DIY stain sealer with beeswax or there are a few more natural options too. I like Annie Sloan’s furniture wax, but I’ll be DIYing a beeswax sealer in the near future.

I’ll be updating this post to let you know how the color has held up – so check back for updates.

Also, if you would like to see a project featuring this homemade wood stain from coffee and chocolate, check back later this week for my DIY for 1 last update 2020/07/04 hook rack project.Also, if you would like to see a project featuring this homemade wood stain from coffee and chocolate, check back later this week for my DIY hook rack project.

If you are trying to make the switch to more natural ingredients in your home, try experimenting with this homemade, chemical-free wood stain.

The wood stain is free if you have all the common household items. If you don’t, you won’t need to spend more than a few bucks. Save money and spare yourself the fumes from regular stain.ย Your nose will thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Jann Olson

    Wow! so very clever. Thanks for sharing the 1 last update 2020/07/04 with SYC.
    hugs,
    JannWow! so very clever. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  2. Denise Riches

    Very smart! I was curious about steel wool and tea stains, myself. I’d imagine you would still need to clear coat it if storing the wood outside. Thanks for the insight! ๐Ÿ™‚ #BloggersPitStop

  3. Chloe

    Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Well this a clever way to use tea I shall bear this in mind for when we do some diy #sharethebloglove

  4. Leslie

    Very cool! I used the tea, steel wool, and vinegar mixture on our outdoor bar a couple years ago, and it’s definitely a fun experiment. You can do so much playing around with this…seeing how different species of wood react to the stains in addition to different mixtures. Definitely a rabbit hole kind of experience. But so much fun. Thanks so much for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

    • Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for for 1 last update 2020/07/04 EileenEileen

      Yes for 1 last update 2020/07/04 I was so impressed with how these ingredients did the job! Such a good alternative and yes a rabbit hole with all the different kinds of wood. Have a lovely week:)Yes I was so impressed with how these ingredients did the job! Such a good alternative and yes a rabbit hole with all the different kinds of wood. Have a lovely week:)

  5. Lynda Hardy

    So interesting! I’ve used coffee and tea to age and dye cloth but never thought to try to use it on wood – I’ll be looking to see how it holds up! Thanks for sharing with the 1 last update 2020/07/04 Party in Your PJs!So interesting! I’ve used coffee and tea to age and dye cloth but never thought to try to use it on wood – I’ll be looking to see how it holds up! Thanks for sharing with Party in Your PJs!

    • Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for for 1 last update 2020/07/04 EileenEileen

      Thanks so much!! I am so excited to use this for 1 last update 2020/07/04 as my wood stain now:)Thanks so much!! I am so excited to use this as my wood stain now:)

    • Eileen

      Yes I agree! And sometimes I would wear those chemical-free gloves but they would be so thick that I couldn’t grab the rag properly. This diy stain avoids all that:)

  6. mummy for 1 last update 2020/07/04 here and here mummy here and here

    Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for

    I have e never heard of this remedies, shall bear it in time next time. Thanks for sharing X #mmbc

  7. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Carol

    Great ideas! I’m allergic to most chemicals and have never tried staining anything for health reasons. I can handle coffee – wow! You should share this post for 1 last update 2020/07/04 on Rosie’s Going Green linky. http://eco-gites.blogspot.fr/Great ideas! I’m allergic to most chemicals and have never tried staining anything for health reasons. I can handle coffee – wow! You should share this post on Rosie’s Going Green linky. http://eco-gites.blogspot.fr/

  8. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for LouisaLouisa

    What a fantastic idea. I’m not sure that I would use it for a whole floor because you’d have to make so much but I would definitely use it on upcycling projects. I wonder what sort of colour you would get with marmite? #mmbc

  9. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for ren blaire the 1 last update 2020/07/04 hunterren blaire hunter

    the coffee mixes did turn out similar, I love seeing the natural wood grain in them. #bigpinklink

  10. Rosie (@greenrosielife)

    What a great idea – it is all so easy to grab a can of chemically based stain when Mother Nature offers such good results from her own store. Popping by from #MMBC. I also wonder if you would be interested in linking this post up to my linky all about #GoingGreen? The Feb one is currently open. Hope to see you there! Rosie

  11. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Fancy

    Great idea! Am a for 1 last update 2020/07/04 bit worried what colour my insides are now though๐Ÿ˜‹ I do love coffee…#bigpinklinkGreat idea! Am a bit worried what colour my insides are now though๐Ÿ˜‹ I do love coffee…#bigpinklink

  12. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Kelly Mahan

    What a great idea! I never thought about using a chemical-free stain, but I definitely for 1 last update 2020/07/04 will on my next DIY. Thanks!What a great idea! I never thought about using a chemical-free stain, but I definitely will on my next DIY. Thanks!

  13. Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Rick Harrison

    What a creative idea for DIY. However, when using Cocoa powder and coffee as the ingredient, are they attract the ants?
    Anyway, it’s great. Thank Eileen.

  14. Berkeley

    Hey there! This looks awesome. How did the stains hold up over time? I might use this on earrings Iโ€™ve wood burned. Thanks!

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