Natural Wood Stain

2 Materials
30 Minutes

This natural wood stain is amazing!

Remember last week when I made this cutting board?

(If you missed it, you can read about it HERE)

And I said I aged it with a stain made from vinegar and steel wool?

Were you wondering about that stain?

Oh, good!

'Cause today I’m giving you all the details.

And you’re gonna love how easy this is!

So here’s how to make natural wood stain:


  • Super fine steel wool (I used 0000)
  • White vinegar
  • Jar with a lid


Put the steel wool in the jar and pour vinegar over it.

Fill the jar about 1/2 full.

All of the steel wool does not need to be covered with vinegar.


Put the lid on the jar and let it sit.

I let this batch sit overnight and this is how it turned out —

The vinegar eats away at the steel and oxidizes it. So in a few hours you’ll have a gray or brown liquid with some of the steel dissolved and laying on the bottom. Just gently shake it up and you’ll have your ‘stain’.

The longer you let the mixture sit, the darker and redder it gets.

I let this batch sit for 6 days and it came out really dark

And different species of wood will react differently so be sure to test a sample before you put it on your finished piece.

(The good news is — it does sand off with some vigorous sanding with coarse sandpaper and you can start over if you don’t like your first result.)

This is how I made the charcuterie board:

I started with a piece of pine we had that had been used as a closet shelf. I loved the grain in it.

I cut out my shape...

sanded it...

and added the stain.

This solution doesn’t actually ‘stain’ the wood. The way it works is it causes a chemical reaction with the tannins in the wood and makes it look worn and aged.

And you know how I love the worn and aged look around here! (except on my face…)

After letting the stain sit overnight, I rubbed on some olive oil to give it a nice deep finish.

The great thing about this stain is that it’s non-toxic so you can use it on pieces that come in contact with food.

So, what do you think?

Would you try this natural wood stain?

Here's another piece that I gave a weathered finish. (I wish I had known about the steel wool and vinegar natural wood stain before I did this -- but it still turned out really nice.) Read all about it HERE

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