Make your own organic wood stain for less than $5
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Make Chemical-Free Wood Stain (With Kitchen Ingredients)

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.

How to Make Your Own Chemical-Free DIY Wood Stain -Natural and Organic

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 left over 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 a homemade wood stain from ingredients in your pantry

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 πŸ™‚

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.

DIY Wood Stain fro Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate

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

Making DIY Wood Stain from Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate

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.”

How to make DIY wood stain for free with ingredients from around your house

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.

How to Make your own Wood Stain

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.

How to Make Natural DIY Wood Stain with Kitchen Ingredients

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.

How to Make Chemical-Free Wood Stain for free!

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.

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.

Making Wood Stain that's homemade, chemical-free, and natural

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 πŸ™‚

How to Make Your Own Wood Stain for less than $5


  1. These are so simple and clever!! Will tell Hubby about these tips for next time we’re doing DIY!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week!

    1. Thanks so much! Have a lovely week:)

  2. I have used walnuts from our tree as well for stain. Found you on Simple Homestead Link Party.

  3. Jann Olson says:

    Wow! so very clever. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  4. 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! πŸ™‚ #BloggersPitStop

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

    1. Thanks Chloe! Glad you liked it:)

  6. 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!

    1. 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:)

    1. Thanks Linda! It was so easy:)

  7. 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!

    1. Thanks Lynda! I’ll keep you posted:)

  8. Love posts where I learn something totally new #FamilyFun

    1. Thanks Kate!:) glad you like it!

    1. Thanks so much!! I am so excited to use this as my wood stain now:)

  9. What a great idea! I love stained wood but have to admit, the smell of stain an the difficulty of getting it off my hands when I’m done makes me procrastinate.

    1. 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:)

  10. mummy here and here says:

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

  11. 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.

    1. Will do! Hope this stain helps you out:)

  12. 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

    1. Thanks Louisa! Yes I totally agree on the upcycled projects πŸ™‚

  13. ren blaire hunter says:

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

    1. ren blaire hunter says:

      oh and I am back from #MMBC

  14. I make what I call my rust stain with different kinds of vinegar and rusty nails. I will certainly try using these other items as well.

    1. Yes, I was trying to make one without any kind of chemical:)

  15. I love staining things, it is so great to see a natural, chemical free option. looks like coffee works really well.

    1. Thanks Mackenzie! So glad you like it:)

  16. 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

    1. YES! Totally agree!! I will check it out:)

  17. how interesting, I really like the first coffee stain. It’s such a great alternative and it looks good.

    1. Thanks so much, Anne. Glad you like it:)

  18. Great idea! Am a bit worried what colour my insides are now though? I do love coffee…#bigpinklink

  19. This is a great idea, the smell of wood stain really can be so invasive and give you headaches. This sounds much better! Thanks for linking up to the #bigpinklink this week!

    1. Thanks Louise. Yes stain is such an awful smell. This was a great alternative for little projects πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Victoria! So glad you like it:)

  20. Cool, I had no idea wood stain could be done line that. Thank you for sharing the tutorial at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned!

    1. So glad you like it! Thanks for the pin:)

  21. Love this! I’ve done a tea/vinegar/steel wool solution before and it turned out beautifully! I’ve been meaning to try a beet juice stain, but, of course, haven’t got there yet. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Beet juice sounds awesome! I would love to see it when you get there:)

  22. What a great idea! I never thought about using a chemical-free stain, but I definitely will on my next DIY. Thanks!

    1. So glad to have helped, Kelly!

  23. 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.

    1. It’s been okay so far – I think because I sealed it very well! Time will tell πŸ™‚

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

    1. Perfectly! It would work well for earrings!

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