Using Used Tea Bags to Stain Wood
If woodworking is your hobby, have you ever thought about using tea to stain your finished furniture piece or picture frame? You can, as long as the wood is unfinished. Wood with finishes or treatments from previous chemical staining will not be able to absorb the tea stain. So if you want to stain with tea, you will need to work with raw wood.
Some raw wood, especially light-colored wood such as pine, lacks tannin. As you learned earlier in this article, black tea contains tannins, which can help darken wood. By applying a tea mixture to raw wood surfaces, the tannins can enhance the wood's color and depth.
But before you begin staining your wood with tea, you will need to make iron acetate, which will react with the tannins in the tea mixture to stain the wood. To create iron acetate, soak a piece of steel wool in a solution of vinegar and water in a covered jar for two to three days [sources: McNamara, Organic Gardening].
When the iron acetate is ready, you can create your tea mixture and begin the staining process. Boil some water and pour it over enough black tea bags to make a very strong tea. Allow the bags to steep for at least an hour. When the tea mixture has cooled, apply it with a paintbrush and let it soak into the wood. After a few minutes, use a lint-free cloth to sop up any excess liquid [source: Organic Gardening].
After you have applied the tea mixture, apply the iron acetate. Remove the lid from the jar and use a paintbrush to apply the iron acetate to the wood with even strokes. The iron acetate will react with the tannins in the tea stain and make the wood darker. When the wood is dry, use a fine or very fine grit sand paper to sand the surface of the wood. Remove any dust or debris from the wood and then oil the surface or coat it with a wax finish [source: Organic Gardening].
From woodworking projects to sewing and paper crafting, tea staining is a versatile technique you can use to add rustic charm to your projects.
For more creative crafting projects, visit the links below.
Originally Published: May 5, 2009
Teabag Stain FAQ
How do you dye fabric with tea?
Can you write on tea stained paper?
How do you tea stain paper to make it look old?
How do you make paper look old with ink on it?
How do you make stained paper look old?
Related HowStuffWorks Links
- Aisling. "Tea Staining Your Art Journal Pages." 2005. (Accessed 4/14/09) http://www.aisling.net/journaling/tea-staining-paper.htm
- Martin, Gene. "Cabinet Construction." Immune Web. 6/97. (Accessed 4/14/09) http://www.immuneweb.org/articles/cabinets.html
- McNamara, Jim. "Staining Blotch-Prone Woods and Endgrain." The Woodworker's Gazette. 7/19/99. (Accessed 4/15/09) http://www.woodworking.org/WC/GArchive99/7_17mcnamarart.html
- Organic Gardening. "Staining Wood with Tea & Vinegar." (Accessed 4/14/09) http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s-4-55-457,00.html
- Shaigany, Sheila. "5 Reuses for: Tea Bags." Planet Green. 10/14/08. (Accessed 4/14/09)http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/reuses-tea-bags.html
- Spatone, Susan. "Tea Staining Fabric." Craft At Home. (Accessed 4/14/09) http://www.craftathome.com/Instructional/teastainingfabric.html
- Spatone, Susan. "Tea Stain Paper." Craft At Home. (Accessed 4/14/09) http://www.craftathome.com/Instructional/teastainingpaper.html
- Stitching Cow. "How to Tea Dye Fabric." (Accessed 4/14/09) http://www.stitchingcow.com/about/useful-resources/embroidery-tips/how-to-age-fabric
- Encyclopædia Britannica. "tannin." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2009. (Accessed 4/20/09) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/582701/tannin
- Encyclopædia Britannica. "tea." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2009. (Accessed 4/20/09) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/585115/tea