Woods That Contain High Amounts Of Tannic Acid

(such as white and red oak, cherry and walnut) can be ebonized by brushing on an acidic solution of iron and water. Depending on the species, the black color that results is likely to contain shades of brown, red or green. The coloring is usually uniform and consistent, without the blotching that sometimes occurs with oil-based wood stains. On oak and other woods that have large pores, the effect is particularly striking because the pores usually remain light in color.

The technique

In a glass container, immerse a pad of steel wool (steel is mostly iron) in white vinegar from the grocery store. Screw on the lid and allow the steel wool and vinegar to react for at least a day. Shake the solution occasionally.

Finish-sand the piece you want to treat to 180 grit. The iron and vinegar solution contains lots of water, so it's a good idea to preemptively raise the grain. Dampen the sanded piece with water, let it dry and then sand lightly with 180 grit to remove the raised fibers.

Apply the solution with a cloth. There's no need to saturate the wood; a good dampening of the surface will

Bleached Finish j

Sodium Hydroxide Wood Bleach


find its effect on walnut to be striking. I bleach walnut until it's nearly white and then lightly sand the surface to bring back the ghost of the original color.

The technique

Two-part wood bleach from the paint or hardware store works the best. The two components are hydrogen peroxide and sodium hydroxide (lye), so be careful. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection and strictly follow the instructions.

Finish-sand the piece you want to bleach to 180 grit Bleaching solutions contain lots of water, so it's a good idea to preemptively raise the grain. Dampen the sanded piece with water, let it dry and then sand lightly with 180 grit to remove the raised fibers.

Don your protective gear and follow the manufacturer's directions to apply the bleach. Some tell you to apply Part A, wait a few minutes, and then apply Part B; others tell you to mix the two parts together and apply the mixture. Wipe on a light coat of the solution (Photo 1). There's no need to saturate the wood; just dampen the surface. Let the piece dry. Then repeat the process—it usually takes seven or eight applications to bleach walnut white. When you're satisfied with the white color, wipe the piece with a damp cloth to remove any bleach residue. Then let it dry.

Sand lightly with 320 to 400 grit to gently ghost back the walnut color (Photo 2). Then apply lacquer, wax or a clear water-based finish to preserve the bleached look.

Sand lightly to ghost back the walnut color. Then apply lacquer, wax or a clear water-based finish.

Remove the wood's natural color with two-part wood bleach. Several applications may be necessary.

Wood Tannin

do. On tannin-rich woods, the reaction can be instantaneous (Photo at right). Let the piece dry and then repeat the process. If the surface starts to feel rough, lightly sand between applications. Eventually the color will become uniformly dark; you can stop whenever you like, though. Sometimes a lighter shade of black looks great, so you may want to call it quits after one or two applications. When you're satisfied with the color, wipe down the wood with a damp cloth to remove any residue from the solution. Let the wood dry before applying a finish. Oil finishes, wiping varnishes and oil/varnish finishes enhance this coloring process.

Wiping a solution created by immersing steel wool in household vinegar onto woods that contain high amounts of tannic acid causes a chemical reaction that turns the wood black.

Charred Finish

Torch Method Wood FinishTorch Method Wood Finish
Lightly scorch the wood with a torch. Move the flame continuously and quickly so the wood doesn't overheat.

EBONIZED WOOD OFTEN ISN'T PURE BLACK. Depending on the method used, the color usually includes shades of brown, red, purple or blue. A rich, deep, pure black is hard to achieve—unless you char the wood with a torch. This method works on any wood, although the results will look distinctively different from one species to another, depending on the character of the wood. Also, a uniform appearance is easier to achieve on face and edge grain than on end grain.

This finish is tricky because it's fairly easy to overheat the wood and cause it to crack or ignite. End grain surfaces and thin pieces (less than 3/8" thick) are especially vulnerable. It's a good idea to develop your charring technique by practicing on pieces that aren't "keepers."

The technique

Finish-sand the piece you intend to char the same as for a clear finish—charring doesn't cover sanding marks or torn grain as well as you might think. Work in an area free of combustible materials. Wear a heavy protective glove to hold the piece while charring its surface, and use a propane torch with an adjustable flame so you can control the heat level.

The best approach is to char the wood to a uniform appearance in stages, stopping to brush off the burned debris between applications of heat. Start by lightly skimming the wood's surface with the flame (Photo 1). Make slightly overlapping passes and move the torch continuously. If the wood ignites, simply blow out the flame and let the wood cool before resuming.

After lightly charring the entire surface, let the piece cool, and then go over it with a soft metal brush to remove the ash and other completely burned debris (Photo 2). Brushing often accentuates the latewood, which is usually harder and more resistant to the flame than the earlywood. Torch and brush the entire surface a second time to make the charred color as uniform as possible.

The last step really brings out the rich, carbon-black color. After the piece has cooled, apply a coat of oil finish. I usually use boiled linseed oil or pure tung oil (both thinned by one-third with mineral spirits). Rags soaked with boiled linseed oil are flammable, so dispose of them properly.

Brush off the loose debris with a soft bristle brush. Repeat the process, if necessary, to create a consistent black color. Then apply an oil finish to intensify the black.

Blended Finish

Was this article helpful?

+4 -2


  • Bowman Greenhand
    What wood species contain tannic acid?
    7 years ago
  • Diamond
    Is there tannic acid in cherry wood?
    6 years ago
  • Elias
    Which woods contain tainic acid?
    5 years ago
  • letizia
    Can uou paint over tannic acid wood?
    5 years ago
  • cameron
    Does poplar wood contain tannic acid?
    4 years ago
  • Semolina
    What woods are high in tannins?
    3 years ago
  • adele
    Does cherry wood have a high tannin level?
    3 years ago
  • Salla Tiainen
    Does popular wood have high tannin levels?
    3 years ago
  • amedeo
    How long kamari wood contain tannin?
    3 years ago
  • gundolpho
    Does sekelbos contains tannin?
    3 years ago
  • madoc
    Does mesquite wood contain tannin?
    3 years ago
  • awet yusef
    Is there tannin in white ash?
    2 years ago
  • sarah
    Is ash a tannan rich wood?
    2 years ago
  • franco cattaneo
    What species of wood has the most tannin?
    2 years ago
  • Aapo Rasi
    Which wood has tannins?
    2 years ago
  • Mamie
    Does have sake have tannins?
    2 years ago
  • kerttu
    Does bees wax have tannins?
    2 years ago
  • Ariam
    Does seasoned oak have a high tanic acid level?
    2 years ago
  • petri
    Does tannin react with acid?
    2 years ago
    Is poplar a low tannin wood?
    2 years ago
  • Imelda
    How to make tannic acid from wood?
    2 years ago
  • bob
    Is walnut an acidic wood?
    2 years ago
  • melilot
    What wood has highest tannin content?
    2 years ago
  • fre-qalsi
    Does oak wood contain cresol?
    2 years ago
  • vincent
    Does rosewood have a high tanin content?
    2 years ago
  • Tim
    Is water with high tannin levels good for garden?
    2 years ago
  • tim frei
    Is pine wood high in tannins?
    2 years ago
  • debra
    How react amoniac with wood tanin?
    1 year ago
  • pentti
    What type oak has the most tannin,what has less?
    1 year ago
  • isidoro trevisan
    Is pine high in tannin?
    1 year ago
    Which types oak have the most tannin,which types have the least?
    1 year ago
  • asmara omar
    Does 2x4 lumbar contain tannins?
    1 year ago
  • elsie
    Does rosewood have a lot of tannin?
    1 year ago
  • selassie
    Does sycamore wood contain tannin?
    1 year ago
  • luis montalvo
    What wood species have a high content of tannins?
    1 year ago
  • Lavinia
    Which wood has the greatest amount of tannins?
    1 year ago
  • Frank
    Does wood have a high acid content?
    1 year ago
  • joona halvari
    Does pine contain tanins?
    1 year ago
  • Amina
    Does pine wood have acid in it?
    1 year ago
  • gilly chubb
    Does alder have alot of tannin?
    1 year ago
  • sante
    Does mulberry wood have tannins in it?
    1 year ago
  • niklas
    Does mahogany have tanins?
    1 year ago
  • Alfredina
    Does douglas fir wood have tannins?
    1 year ago
  • Saba Tesfalem
    What are low tannin woods?
    1 year ago
  • ralph
    Does structiral pine have a lot of tannins?
    1 year ago
  • pierino
    What type of pine has the most tannins?
    1 year ago
  • donnino
    Does poplar contain tanin?
    1 year ago
  • luukas
    Does Mahogany have a high Tannen count?
    12 months ago
  • sandra muller
    What woods have the most tanin?
    11 months ago
  • Huriyyah
    What woods have lots of tanin?
    11 months ago
  • brunilde
    Does manza wood release alot of tannin?
    11 months ago
  • Tegan
    Does rowan contain a lot of tannin?
    10 months ago
  • bisirat
    Is there tannic Acid in Cedar wood?
    10 months ago
  • minna
    Does a pine tree give us tannin?
    9 months ago
  • robert franzen
    Is new shreded cherry wood acid?
    9 months ago
  • carter
    Can some people react to the tannin in some woods when handling it?
    9 months ago
  • mhret
    Does beech wood have tannins?
    9 months ago
  • katharina
    Is there tannin in cherry pits?
    9 months ago
  • gloriana
    Do oak wood chips contain tannin?
    9 months ago
  • salvador ross
    Does pine wood contain tannin?
    8 months ago
  • bernd
    Does wood contain tanimon?
    8 months ago
    How does scyamore wood last on a outside deck?
    8 months ago
  • charley
    Does walnut wood have a high resin content?
    7 months ago
  • matthew
    Is douglas fir tannic?
    7 months ago
  • Jeffrey Mayer
    Are tannins from wood good for garden?
    6 months ago
  • sabrina
    Does pine wood contain tanin?
    5 months ago
  • linda
    Does doulgas fir have tannins?
    4 months ago
  • justin
    Which wood is harder = maple, olive, cherry, walnut, or teak?
    4 months ago
  • bingo
    What woods are high in tannin?
    3 months ago
  • petra
    Which has more tannin oak or walnut?
    3 months ago
  • leah
    Does walnut sawdust have tonic acid in it?
    3 months ago
  • tobias
    Is pine a high or low tanin?
    3 months ago
    Does oak have tannin bleed?
    3 months ago
  • sesuna
    Can sage brush wood add tannin?
    3 months ago
  • Maximilian
    Does maple wood have tannins?
    3 months ago
  • linda
    Does mahogany have tannin acid?
    2 months ago
  • Vanna Sal
    Does ash have lower levels of tannits?
    2 months ago
  • Peter
    Does douglass fir have high tannins?
    2 months ago
  • Jarno
    How to nuetrilize tannic acid from wood?
    1 month ago
  • Julie
    Does walnut wood bleed?
    1 month ago
  • danny
    Does Tanic acid come from wood?
    1 month ago
  • Marjo
    What are tannins in brazilian cherry wood?
    1 month ago
  • Kasey
    Does hickry wood have tannins?
    1 month ago
  • fortinbras
    Which woods contain the most tannic acid?
    24 days ago
  • Tomas
    How much tannin is in wall nut hulls?
    12 days ago
  • Mohammed
    How much tannin is in wall nut trees?
    11 days ago
  • Celio
    What reaction does wood give against acid?
    11 hours ago

Post a comment