How to Stain Wood With Balsamic Vinegar

A few months ago, I wrote about staining wood with a combination of steel wool and apple cider vinegar. Every since that experiment I have been using the method for my custom signs and other projects. I wanted to experiment a bit more to see what other natural stains I could use and what other colors I could come up with. I love the way the Balsamic Vinegar react with the steel wool and the color of stain this combination makes.
I have used this stain on untreated pine. I use this stain on plain boards BEFORE assembling them into signs, crates, etc.
Here is where you can find the Hometalk post on apple cider vinegar:
http://www.hometalk.com/2524453/age-or-stain-wood-with-vinegar
With a few simple supplies you can stain wood naturally
Supplies: *(Real) Steel Wool (I used 0000 grade) *1 cup balsamic vinegar *1 cup water *Jar *Gloves *Paint brush ( it does not have to be a good one)
This is an example of what the stain looked like when wet (top) and after drying (bottom).
Combine 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar, 1 Cup water, and 1 Pad of Steel Wool in a jar (with a lid). Let sit for at least 24 hours. I tested my stain every 24 hours until I had the color I desired. It took one week.
Simply paint the stain on untreated boards (I used pine boards). Let it dry thoroughly, and rinse (and let dry again)
This is the beautiful grayish color of the wood after staining.
Here is a sample showing the difference between the two vinegar stains. The top is the Balsamic Vinegar and the bottom is the Apple Cider Vinegar.

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Holly Lefevre

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Bonnie Cant-Decide
    Bonnie Cant-Decide
    on Feb 2, 2016

    Hi Holly; Thank you for your post. Would you know what needs to be done to use this staining technique on a finished piece? I am allergic to chemicals and cannot use conventional stains but I need to refinish a butterscotch oak display cabinet to match my black furniture. It's oak so I know it'll take the vinegar/steel wool solution and darken well, but all the tutorials I've found on the net show the process for unfinished wood. Any advice as to how to prepare lightly varnished wood for the stain? It's huge so I am hoping I won't have to sand the whole thing. TY

    • Reggie
      Reggie
      on May 12, 2017

      I would sand just the varnish off and then stain it with the vinigar.. Lightly and evenly sand it so the just the varnish is gone.....
  • Ccq4758044
    Ccq4758044
    on Feb 23, 2016

    Holly: I just stained my dresser with vinegar and steel wool..Now I want to give it a shine, can I use polyuerathane satin finish on it?

    • Mikey
      Mikey
      on Jul 22, 2020

      I used coconut oil to put a shine on my projects

  • Kimberly Taylor Herrick
    Kimberly Taylor Herrick
    on Mar 28, 2016

    Staining wood with vinegars: does this attract bugs?

Join the conversation

3 of 31 comments
  • Holly Lefevre
    Holly Lefevre
    on Sep 26, 2015

    I tested it every day out of the jar into a scrap piece of wood. I let the stain sit for the week in the same jar.

  • Pri2700631
    Pri2700631
    on Oct 21, 2015

    Does the wood need to be fine sanded or does that depend on the on how the wood takes the stain

    • Holly Lefevre
      Holly Lefevre
      on Oct 21, 2015

      @Priss006 I usually just do my project on the wood without sanding. Often a give it a light sanding (mainly because I use it for rustic signs) after I finish my project. If your wood is really rough or the process brings out some roughness, a light sanding might be good before proceeding.

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