Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to Make Wood Stain from Natural Dyes

A few months ago, one of my friends was talking about using natural dyes to make her own beautifully colored dresses. Then about a week ago I ran across this amazing post about making natural dyes over at the blog a pair and a spare. I believe they got their initial inspiration from a DIY Wednesday post from  This post is absolutely excellent and if you have ever been interested in natural dyes you should definitely check it out. Anyways, that post got me thinking about using these dyes for natural DIY wood stain. So last weekend I made up a recipe, and surprisingly enough it worked!!!

As usual, necessity is the mother of invention. This last weekend I was at my parents house with my brother who wanted to build a display stand for his 20 gallon aquarium. My dad has a plethora of home milled lumber and some fun power tools so there was no way I could pass on such a project.
Together a good friend of mine, my brother and I got to work build the aquarium stand. The picture below shows how the aquarium stand turned out (you can see the DIY Stain in the bottom left corner):

DIY Aquarium Stand for 20 gallon Fish Tank
Now that we had a finished project, we realized we needed some wood stain. So I improvised (using some of the knowledge from this post about making natural dyes) and I quickly whipped up a stain using beets, spinach, vinegar and flour. We went ahead and applied the stain with an old rag and this is how it turned out!

DIY Aquarium Stand with Beet and Spinach Wood Stain
I didn't end up with too many pictures as I wasn't really sure that this was going to work out. However,  given the success of this stain, I plan on doing further experiments with these natural dyes. When I create more DIY Natural Stains I will post more detailed recipes.

Read below for directions on how to make your own wood stain from natural dyes!

Recipe for Wood Stain for Natural Dyes

In reality I was just making this stain up as I went, but it turned out really well. That said, feel free to get creative if you think you can improve upon this recipe, and then let me know. :)
Beet & Spinach Wood Stain
  • One 8 oz Can of Beets
  • One 8 oz Can of Spinach
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white flour
The first thing I did was dump out all of the water from each can. Then I added each can to a blender and made a puree. Next, I put it in a saucepan and added 1/4 cup of vinegar and let it all simmer for about 15 minutes. I added a little bit of flour to thicken the consistency. My hope was that the vinegar and flour would help with the penetration and adhesion of the stain. Also the vinegar would help keep the stain more shelf stable. After it simmered for 15 minutes I removed it from the saucepan and let it cool.

To apply the stain to the wood we used an old rag and just lathered it on really thick. We let it sit for about 5-10 minutes and then we wiped off any excess stain. The result was pretty exciting! To seal in this stain I would add a varnish or shellac. Ideally you would use my DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant to keep you project all natural!


  1. Hey There, What do you think of using well water iron sediment as a pine wood floor stain? When I change the "Whole house water filter",the stuff is caked on to filter.It stains my hands.Do you see any "Cons" to this? It's the Pumpkin pine shade we want too!!

  2. You have the best posts. I was looking for wood straining and found you. Wow. You totally rock and I cannot believe how extensive and easy you make these posts. Thanks so much.

  3. I was wondering if you could tell me the best way to remove a finish on a piece of furniture without using harsh chemicals. Is sanding the only way???

  4. Nice, I really like the color of your finished product! A couple of days ago I juiced some beets, tested that two ways : 1. straight, and 2. after boiling a bit..The boiled beet juice gave a more red color but still quite light. I also tried Cabernet Sauvignon...That could get bit expensive though and was not as nice a color! Maybe I will get some red grapes and try that with the beets.

    I want a really dark, rich, reddish if anyone has more ideas please let me know.


  5. I would try fresh beet juice...I just googled staining wood with beets and a post about a very red-stained table (too red for my taste) came up. It almost looked like cherry wood.

  6. I would say coffee would work as well as maybe walnut husks if boiled. it may not be what you want but its bound to work.

  7. Wow, This is awesome, I came across this and I'm going to try some today! Question though, what is the purpose of the spinach in this particular recipe? I assume it's not for the green color. To build up the consistancy of the stain?

  8. Thanks for this (and the natural varnish) great info. My wife and I will use it in our veggie juice bar in Lima, Peru... keeps us in our minimalist, natural vibe!

    We made a dark olive juice (just the juice that comes with the olives) stain but wonder if the water content (even though I boiled it down) means I have to dry it before varnish/installation? Using nice and dry old pallet wood.

  9. Great tips, thanks for posting. I've used coffee grounds to stain wood, as well as left over tea. I know some people also use shoe polish on wood, makes a nice dark stain...

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