Friday, June 5, 2015

Black Tea & Vinegar-Steel Wool Stain

A "Doubting Thomas" I am no more

I am SO impressed with this homemade recipe for wood stain.  I was not a believer until I had to experiment with it myself.

For the past year I've worked a lot with wood pallets, wood boards and planks.  I either find a pallet on the side of the road.  I also shop at our local box store for wood boards and planks that I take home to trim, sand and paint. I sell the signs I make at a local artisan mall.  I have scoured the internet and Pinterest to get more ideas on staining and painting my signs.  When I found this recipe and saw pictures of others who had used this stain, I found it very hard to believe, until now.

This is black tea and a plank I bought.  I stained the plank with one coat of  the black tea stain.  When it dried, it dried to almost the same color until. . . .

until it dried and then I added one coat of the vinegar stain.  When the vinegar stain dried I couldn't believe my eyes!!  The dark brown tint was beautiful, just the way I like it.  The color is very similar to the oil stain I use.   This stain dried in no time without any fumes although the vinegar and rusty smell was a little strong but nothing to worry about, I even had my windows closed!

Here's another sample:
Here's a small pallet I bought at Michaels for only 7.99.

Instant rustic!!  I only used the Vinegar & Steel Wool stain for this pallet.  I don't think I'll need to use the Black Tea stain much since  I love how this pallet turned out.

This is my jar of vinegar stain, it's around 10 days old.

Here's the recipe for the VINEGAR & STEEL WOOL STAIN:
Start one week to 10 days ahead or longer
1 large glass jar with lid (mine was a Prego spaghetti sauce jar), cleaned and dried
5 cups of white distilled vinegar, more if needed
2 steel wool pads (do not use SOS or Brillo pads)

Combine all the ingredients and let sit on a shelf, away from little ones if you have any.  Make sure to label the jar, don't want anyone drinking from it accidentally.

Shake often until all the steel wool has dissolved.  It should be ready to use in 7 -10 days.  Strain using a cheesecloth to remove any particles from the steel wool.  Wear protective gloves when staining.  Use a brush or a cloth to stain the wood, just like you would if you were using the regular oil-based stain.

10 oz. boiling water
2-3 tea bags of any kind of black tea
Small jar with lid

Brew black tea until it cools.  Use instantly and save the rest in a small jar.  Again, don't forget to label it.

So does anyone know if this stain stands well in sunlight? (Hubby was wondering).
If anyone out there knows anything else about this stain that I didn't mention, please leave a comment.
I'm thrilled that this stain only cost pennies compared to the oil-based kind in the stores.

I have a large can of oil based stain I don't think I'm going to be using anytime soon, anyone want to buy it?


Until next time,


  1. Replies
    1. LOL Monique! I wish it were my idea :)

  2. That looks quite good- the tea worked great! I would only be concerned about the color if it got wet. Perhaps a quick coat of clear sealer to protect it? I used a tea bag method to age some muslin in the past for soft sculpture items I made and sold in the 90's but I don't know how it held up.

    1. Excellent idea Liz, I will definitely use a sealer that's if I don't paint it. Thx!

  3. Works like a charm.
    We used vinegar and steel wool steeped together to create a 'stain' for one of the new doors at the old homestead.
    We had a old granary that we restored, and the new door just did not match the old wood on the granary structure.
    Voila... vinegar and steel wool stain was just the ticket to making that new door look old, and it blended with the antique granary.

    Have a great week!!


    1. Wow, thanks for the reassurance Kerin. I've done more pieces of different types of wood and it continues to amaze and impress me. I do have a question though, when the pieces dry, they have a rusty scent to them. How do you get rid of that? Thx!!