How to Stain Wood With Balsamic Vinegar

Holly Lefevre
by Holly Lefevre

A few months ago, I wrote about how to stain 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 reacts 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:

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.
Holly Lefevre
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 4 questions
  • 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?
  • Kimberly Taylor Herrick Kimberly Taylor Herrick on Mar 28, 2016
    Staining wood with vinegars: does this attract bugs?
  • Tania Johnson Tania Johnson on Nov 06, 2023

    I have sanded our white oak dinner table to raw wood and want this color. I'm wondering how the diffferent wood would look.

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.