How to make your own food-safe wood stain

Written by david slate
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How to make your own food-safe wood stain
Use a concentrated coffee or tea solution to create a food-safe wood stain. (coffee in coffee image by Maria Brzostowska from

You can stain wood without the use of harsh or toxic chemicals, and instead apply natural looking, food-safe finishes using food-based products that are safe for people and the environment. Use common household items like tea and coffee to create a traditional stained look. Seal your wooden object with rub-on beeswax or another natural polish. Sand the object or piece of furniture before beginning any treatments to allow the wood to absorb as much of the stain as possible.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sandpaper
  • Latex gloves
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Tea leaves or tea bags
  • Coffee
  • Teapot or coffee maker
  • Large glass or plastic bowl
  • Disposable cotton rags
  • Rub-on beeswax sealer, mineral oil, almond oil or walnut oil

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  1. 1

    Make a highly concentrated tea or coffee solution in your teapot or coffee maker. Depending on the size of your wooden object you will need to make anywhere from 2 cups to a half gallon or more of solution. Double the amount of tea or coffee required for the amount of water being used. The more tea or coffee you add to the liquid the richer the colour will be. Pour it into a large glass or plastic bowl.

  2. 2

    Let the coffee or tea solution cool to room temperature. Wear your latex gloves and soak the cotton rag in the liquid. Ring out slightly and apply the solution to the raw surface of your wooden object. Let the piece dry for at least a couple of hours and apply another coat if you desire a deeper colour.

  3. 3

    Apply an even coat of the rub-on beeswax sealer with a clean cotton rag. Cover the entire piece and let dry overnight. Apply a second coat to ensure maximum wood absorption.

Tips and warnings

  • Remove any previous sealant, polish, stain and imperfections to allow the wood absorb the new colour.
  • Cover any surfaces under or around your project with plastic sheeting to prevent any messes.
  • As beeswax wood sealer and polish is not permanent, you will need to reapply when the wax becomes worn. Other food-safe alternatives are nut oils, like almond or walnut, as well as mineral oil.
  • Always wear protective eye wear and a respirator or mask when sanding materials such as wood.

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