Transforming and rejuvenating homes has become a cherished pastime for many. When revamping, it’s crucial to grasp the essentials of the materials you’re using. A common query I get is, “Can I use tung oil on a butcher block?”
Tung Oil: Safe and Stylish for Your Kitchen
Absolutely! Pure tung oil is a wonderful option for all wooden surfaces that interact with food. Whether it’s butcher blocks, island counters, or any other kitchen surfaces, tung oil gifts them a charming matte look. Its simple application and non-toxic nature make it a top pick for a wood finish.
Discovering Tung Oil: A Journey Through Time
Ever wondered what tung oil is and why it’s such a hit for wood finishes? Let’s dive into the world of tung oil and its fascinating origins!
Origin of Tung Oil
Tung oil is derived from the nuts of the tung tree, indigenous to China. Named for their heart-shaped leaves, these trees have a rich history dating back to the 14th century. Chinese merchants used the oil for waterproofing their wooden ships. Fun fact: the Chinese name for the tree, ‘Tung,’ means ‘heart’ in English.
As a drying oil, tung oil leaves a subtle golden sheen on wood. It’s celebrated for its deep penetration, filling even the tiniest imperfections. Being a vegetable oil, it doesn’t alter the wood’s color over time.
The Journey of Tung Oil to America
In 1905, tung tree seeds made their way to the USA. By the 1920s, tung tree farming flourished, especially in the Gulf Coast region. During WWII, tung oil was deemed essential for the war effort, used to protect ships and ammunition.
The Tung Tree: A Portrait
The tung tree, or Vernicia Fordii, is a modest-sized tree with smooth bark and heart-shaped, glossy leaves. It blooms with delicate flowers and bears nuts, from which the oil is extracted. However, the tree and its seeds are highly toxic if ingested, so they’re not recommended for home gardens.
These trees thrive in well-drained, slightly acidic soil. They start bearing fruit within a few years and can be a lucrative crop for oil producers.
From Tree to Finish: Producing and Using Tung Oil
Harvesting Tung Oil
After the fruits drop in late autumn, they’re left to cure. The nuts are then harvested, and the seeds pressed to extract the oil. A good season can yield up to 100 gallons of oil per acre!
Applying Tung Oil to Wood
Opting for tung oil to finish your wood surfaces, like countertops or islands, adds a touch of warmth and elegance. It’s a versatile choice that complements various decor styles, especially for those who love refreshing their spaces.
Butcher block countertops have gained popularity for their natural beauty. Tung oil is a prime choice for these surfaces due to its protective, waterproof qualities and ease of application, even for beginners!
Step-by-Step Guide to Applying Tung Oil
- Sanding: Start by sanding the wood for a smooth base. If you don’t have a sanding machine, hand sanding or liquid sandpaper can be alternatives.
- Mix Your Products: Prepare the tung oil and solvent mixture. Remember, the solvent thins the oil for better curing.
- Apply The Tung Oil: With a clean cloth, apply the oil in circular motions, ensuring even coverage.
- Curing: Let the oil soak for 15 minutes, then wipe off any excess. Allow it to dry for over 24 hours.
- Final Sanding: Lightly sand the dried surface to remove any imperfections. Repeat the oil application for a total of 3 layers.
Considerations When Using Tung Oil
While tung oil offers many advantages, it’s also essential to consider its maintenance requirements and curing time. Regular oiling every few months is needed for upkeep, and the surface takes about a week to fully cure.
Summary Table: Tung Oil Essentials
|Non-toxic, safe for food surfaces
|From the nuts of the tung tree in China
|Penetrates deeply, waterproof, doesn’t darken wood
|Easy to apply, great for beginners
|Requires regular oiling every 4 months
|About a week for full curing