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 all of the mentioned ingredients.
Making Wood Stain from Coffee and Chocolate
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 🙂
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.
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 reapplying.
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.
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 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.
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 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. Your nose will thank you 🙂