7 Natural, Non-Toxic Wood Stain Recipes (You Will Love Trying)

Non-Toxic Homemade Wood Stain Recipes

Sanding, staining, and sealing the wood is a delicate process that can end in awe-inspiring results if done right, but doing it wrong can make your project look like an amateur hour.

Whether you’re refinishing kitchen cabinets or building furniture from scratch, you need certain tools to get the job done—namely, top-notch stains.

The good news is you don’t have to turn to chemicals when looking for quality finishes. Plenty of natural dyes and recipes will let you show off your skills without exposing yourself (or the environment) to harm.

In this blog post, we’ll go over 7 fantastic non-toxic wood stain recipes that everyone from avid DIYers to beginner crafts people will love trying.

DIY Wood Stain – Natural and Homemade

Like regular wood stains, organic products will give your wood surfaces a beautiful, new look while protecting them from the elements.

And if you follow the process correctly, they will work like a charm every time, whether you’re recoloring an old coffee table, countertop, or oak cabinet.

1. Black Tea Stain

Tea bags are one of the most popular, effective, and cheapest ways to make natural wood stains at home.

It’s my favorite as it gives a nice, even color to the wood regardless of the type of wood (plywood, particleboard, raw wood, etc.) you want to add color to. 

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 tea bags
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • Old cloth or sponge

Here’s how to make black tea stain:

To prepare the wood stain, boil some water in a container, add tea bags, and let it steep for 15-20 minutes. 

After that, stir the concentrated mixture well, and use an old sponge or cloth to evenly apply it to the wood surface in the same direction. You can also use a paintbrush or a disposable sponge brush to apply the hot tea water stain onto your wood if you want.

After that, let it dry for about 30 minutes and add a second coat, if necessary. Allow it to dry completely for at least 24 hours before using your newly stained wood.

Tea water contains tannins that work by reacting with the wood. And since different tea bags and varied tea quantities can offer you different shades, you can always experiment with this natural wood stain recipe to get your desired color until you are delighted with the shade. 

TIP: If you like a lighter color, you can use some old used tea bags instead of new ones.

2. Instant Coffee Stain

This is another of my favorite natural wood stain recipes, as it gives a nice, deep espresso color to your wood project. 

The good thing about this stain is that it is very easy and quick to make, so you can be done with the project in no time.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • Old cloth or sponge
  • 1/4 cup of instant coffee powder or coffee grounds

Here’s how to make instant coffee stain:

Start by boiling water and adding instant coffee powder or grounds in a cup or container. Give it a good stir until all the coffee powder is dissolved.

Then, dip an old cloth or sponge into the mixture. Apply the stain to your wood surface and let it sit for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, wipe away any excess with a clean cloth. 

And that’s it; your wood surface will now have a beautiful, dark espresso color. If the color achieved is not dark enough to your liking, you can reapply the stain 2-3 times.

TIP: If you need to color smaller pieces of wood, take a small plastic pouch, place coffee & wood pieces into it, close the pouch tightly, and shake it well to distribute the coffee dye on the wood evenly for 10-15 minutes.

3. Black Raspberry Stain

Raspberries come in a variety of colors, including black, red, yellow, pink, blue, or purple. This means you can utilize them all to make a stunning colored wood stain that complements your home decor.

But if you just want to stick with black raspberries, it’s an excellent recipe for your project to create a deep, dark wood stain that results in a rich, blackish-brown shade.

Here’s what you need:

  • Old cloth or sponge
  • A cup of black raspberry

Here’s how to make black raspberry stain:

Start by crushing the black raspberries to extract their juice. Apply the juice evenly onto the wood surface using an old cloth or sponge.

Let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth. If you want a darker shade, apply the juice one more time or rub the crushed berries directly onto the stained wood surface. You can also use some vinegar and a rusting metal piece for enhanced hue and deeper colors.

Remember that this method is best for wood that stays inside. In direct sunlight, these stains will tend to fade quickly. If you need to use stained wood for exteriors – apply a UV-resistant clear coat on it, which will protect the deep colors of raspberry for a long. 

TIP: Cherry and beets also give the wood a lovely deep red stain. So, you can use them if you don’t find black raspberries in your area. 

4. Walnut Hulls Wood Stain 

Organic black walnut hulls are readily available at your local grocery store, or you can find them online at stores like Amazon.

These hulls work pretty well as a dark wood stain – not that gorgeous deep colors like cherries and berries, but still, it will give a beautiful blackish-brown color to the wood surface. I once used this method to stain my old wooden chair, which worked great for me.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of black walnut hulls
  • 2 cups of water

Here’s how to make the stain with walnut hulls:

Start by soaking the hulls in water for at least 24 hours – it’s good if you can wash them longer for 2-3 days as it will help create a darker color.

After soaking the hulls for enough time, grind the shells using a food processor or chopper.

Next, boil the water on the stovetop and add the walnut shells to the boiling water. Keep stirring well and allow the mixture to steep for 45 to 50 minutes. Then strain it using a cheesecloth or other fine strainer.

Apply this natural homemade mixture to unfinished wood using a rag. Make sure to wipe off any excess and let the stain dry on the wood before applying a second coat if needed.

5. Turmeric Natural Stain for Wood

Turmeric is another excellent option that can be used to create a beautiful natural yellow shade wood stain that is entirely non-toxic.

It’s the perfect wood staining technique if you want to add a touch of sunshine color to your wood without going too dark.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 cup turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Here’s how to make turmeric wood stain: 

Start by mixing turmeric powder and water in a small bowl. Next, add vinegar and mix all the contents well until you have a smooth paste-like consistency.

Apply this turmeric mixture to the wood piece using a rag, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Wipe off the excess paste with a rag and allow the mixture to dry completely for a day.

If you need a darker rich yellowish-orange color on your wood furniture, apply a second coat and allow it to dry thoroughly on the surface.

6. Old Red Wine Wood Stain

This is probably the easiest wood-staining recipe on the list because all you will need is some old red wine and a rag without any need to prepare or boil the mixture.

Pour a small amount of old red wine onto the rag and rub it onto your weathered hardwood floors in a circular motion.

Allow the wine to sit for a couple of minutes, and then wipe off any excess with a clean cloth. 

You can also use this wood staining technique on other types of wood furniture, like tables and chairs. All it will deliver is a smooth, consistent color with a beautiful reddish tint. 

7. Cabbage Wood Stain

If you want to tint wood with a beautiful green color, this is an environmentally friendly wood stain recipe idea to try. You will need a small head of cabbage and some water for this. 

Start by boiling a pot of water and then add the cabbage. 

Let the cabbage boil for about 15-20 minutes, then remove it from the heat.

Once it’s cooled down, dip a rag into the cabbage water and apply it to your wood furniture. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour. If needed, reapply the stain again to get a deeper green shade.

TIP: Avocado also makes an excellent green wood stain. So, if you don’t have cabbage in your kitchen or don’t like it for any reason, you can always substitute it with avocado. 

Natural Homemade Wood Stain

Pros and Cons of Homemade Colored Stain for Wood

Naturally-made colored wood stains are great for crafts and personal projects that involve coloring small pieces of pine wood or any other wood variety.

They are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and easy to make with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. 

The main downside of these homemade wood stains is that they don’t always provide a consistent color on the wood and might not be as durable as commercial stains. Also, it might be tricky for a novice woodworker to make the right color with these natural dyes.

But if you don’t mind learning and practicing different recipes and combinations, you can quickly achieve a beautiful color for your wood furniture or any wood art project.

The Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Easy to clean up
  • Nonflammable and organic
  • No VOCs and no odor of wood stain
  • Safe to use in the house and pet friendly
  • Made with environmentally friendly ingredients

The Cons

  • Can raise the wood grain
  • It can fade fast if exposed to direct sunlight
  • It can be hard to apply to certain wood types
  • Colors are not very deep and permanent as oil-based stains

The bottom line

Whether you want to add some color and vibrancy to your wooden furniture or outdoor project, the 100% natural, non-toxic wood stain recipes will surely provide the perfect hue.

With a few simple ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry and a little DIY elbow grease, you can easily create stunning finishes for your projects. The final results will be worth it in the end – both for how stunning the finished product looks and for how much money you’ll save compared to pre-made chemical-based stains.

Have you ever used any of these before? Which one do you prefer most and why? And do you have additional wood stain tips to share? Please let me know, as I am eager to learn from your experiences.

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